Paradirphia semirosea

Paradirphia semirosea is a very small, cute, and nice Saturniidae moth from Central America. When disturbed they will assume a threat pose and reveal their bright red abdomen with black stripes; a colour warning that may scare off some predators. From the soft pink colours to the creamy golden/white stripes on the wings, red legs and beautiful fluff on their back t is a shame they are rarely offered as livestock.

The threat pose of Paradirphia reveals a beautifully decorated abdomen

The good news is that Paradirphia semirosea is easily reared in captivity. The larvae are gregarious like many species of Hemileucinae, although in the final instar they become solitary and will need a little bit more space for themselves, although they still tolerate living in a high density of larvae. They do grow a  little slowly, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Important is not to keep them wet. I reared them in plastic boxes though they should do even better in cages.

Adult Paradirphia semirosea in resting position. Pretty in pink!

When fully grown, the larvae of Paradirphia semirosea will burrow and form a naked pupa in the soil, without spinning a cocoon. The tiny pupae seem very hardy and will survive for a long time in room conditions and may even take a long time to emerge too. Simulating a rainy season (keep them dry for a long time and then suddenly spray with warm water) may trigger them to emerge faster and more synchronised.

Larvae of Paradirphia in several instars feasting on oak

Like most Hemileucinae the larvae have urticating spines. The sting is not that bad though and is comparable to that of a common stinging nettle. It will make you uncomfortable for a few minutes, but it is tolerable, and not very painful. That being said the sting is worse than the average Automeris however.

Like many tiny species of Saturniidae  the moths are short lived. Pairings should be easy to archieve in an airy cage. The most tricky thing is getting a pair out since the emergence time can be a little sporadic and they are short lived.

Paradirphia semirosea larvae: a  handfull of stingers!

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“Assassin caterpillar” or, in Spanish, “taturana”—these are the names appointed to caterpillars of the genus Lonomia. It’s a name rightfully deserved: Species of the South American genus Lonomia are of medical significance due to their larval forms that may cause severe envenomation and even death to humans. Lonomia is often considered to be the most venomous genus of Lepidoptera, in particular L. obliqua, of which the hemotoxin is known to inflict severe envenomation and cause disseminated intravascular coagulation and haemorrhagic disease in victims.

Lonomia electra: amazing polymorphism showing a diversity in leaf camouflage

Lonomia electra is the first species I have reared from this genus, and I fell in love with them. After studying their life cycle for 1.5 years and publishing this data, I now have extensive knowledge of this species. For those interested, here is some background reading and my publication: Up close and personal with venomous moths (AES) or for the .pdf file of the scientific publication: Click here for science!

These Lonomia from Costa Rica seemed to do quite well on Ligustrum ovalifolium in captivity. A lot of patience is needed to rear them as they larvae have an extremely slow development rate for a Saturniidae (I recorded over 100 days). Eggs seem to take a month to hatch aswell.

A larval congegration of Lonomia electra on my hand

Lonomia seems gregarious up until the final instar – this means they exihibit social behaviour for the entirety of them being caterpillars. They seem to tolerate being reared in plastic boxes with no ventilation at all quite well and withstand the highest degree of humidity. The rearing takes quite a lot of patience, however it seems that the pupae hatch quite fast (in a month). Pupae should be sprayed frequently as this species seems to prefer a higher degree of humidity and pupae dessicate rather fast. The larvae do not spin a cocoon before pupating; in fact they will lazily lie down on the floor and pupate on the spot. They do not even seem to attempt to burrow that much – I theorise that in their natural habitat the larvae pupate between the leaf litter covering the forest floor, giving them the opportunity to just lie down somewhere on the ground and pupate.

The adults seem to exihibit nice polymorhism. The females are always grey (though significantly larger than the males) while the males have two different colour forms: one orange/brownish rusty colour, and one lighter yellow form.

In the picture: one larger, greyish female (botton left) and three males (top) – showing both colour forms the males can have, the orange and yellow form.

Video:

Picture: pupae of Lonomia electra

 

Actias maenas — “Malaysian moon moth”

Actias maenas, the Malaysian moon moth, is a species with a broad range from the mainland of most parts of the Indomalayan ecozone. They are highly sexually dimorphic, and one of the larger moon moths of the genus Actias.

dsc02707Actias maenas female

Actias maenas is quite easy to rear in captivity, and accepts host plants within Rosaceae such as Prunus, Malus and more, and also Liquidambar, which is to be recommended for this species.  Their larvae will grow quite large, but do grow slowly compared to other Actias species. I myself prefer to rear them on plant cuttings in a water bottle. The only thing that seems to be more difficult with this species is archieving pairings, it’s best to have a lot of flight space and a bit of ventilation for them. This fragile species will tatter quite fast. Males often break off their hindwing tails within a few days.

dsc02657Actias maenas male

28208256964_5797a0c810_oFully grown larvae of Actias maenas  on Liquidambar

28208329994_5801cbd0f7_oA tree full of Actias maenas larvae

Graellsia isabellae — “Spanish moon moth”

Welcome on my page about how to rear and breed Graellsia isabellae.

Graellsia isabellae, the Spanish moon moth,  is a marvelous insect that is endemic to the mountainous regions in the Alps and Pyrenees in Spain, France, and Switzerland, though in the latter country has been speculated to be an introduction.

graellsia isabellae bartThree freshly emerged males resting on a stick in captivity. One has already torn a wing, males of this species are very frantic and active.

Graellsia isabellae is a pine tree feeder, and I recommend using Pinus sylvestris over any other kind of coniferous trees, as it is the native host plant. Pinus strobus is another viable second choice, and thirdly, though not optimal, it may accept fir or spruce such as Pseudotsuga, Tsuga, or Picea. The moths live in high altitude pine forests. Though the habitat may reasonably heat up during the day, which are rocky and dry pine forests, at night and in winter the species is also subjugated to rather harsh cold, due to the high altitude. Moths, after spending the winter as diapausing pupae inside their cocoons, emerge in early summer, from May to early July, after which they reproduce, and leave the next generation of larvae to feed on pine trees. Cocoons will always overwinter until the next spring, as this species has only one generation a year.

The larvae, with stunning lime green camouflage, develop reasonably well in plastic boxes. They must be kept clean and dry, they are not fond of high humidity. It is also better to rear them in low density, and not include too much larvae per rearing box.

 

 

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Dear visitor, thanks for visiting my website. On this page, I hope to explain my reasoning behind the  how and why behind donations.

I accept donations via the following paypal button:

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Also please take a look at my Patreon HERE

And some FAQ about donations:
1. Why accept donations, this doesn’t seem like a charity case? 

That’s right! Entomology, and studying Lepidoptera, is the main passion in my life. Despite that, it is and has always been a massive time and money sink for me. That includes the creation of content for other people to enjoy, such as this website, my YouTube channel, writing scientific articles and performing amateur level scientific research, my photo albums and more.

Websites cost money however, and maintaining this website isn’t free. Besides that, obtaining the resources and materials for scientific research and breeding does get difficult at times. Basically, I will use your contribution to pour out more content. Not only online content such as my blogs, videos, caresheets, social media, and the cost of running this website attribute to the many resources this hobby requires; performing my own research projects aswell has not come cheap. For example, I have analysed the defensive chemicals of several tropical butterfly larvae such as Eryphanis sp. that are yet undescribed to science. Things such as GC-MS analysis, or DNA analysis that determine the Eryphanis down to species level (Eryphanis lycomedon and automedon cannot be distinguished without a DNA test for example), does not come cheap, certainly not as amateur entomologist with no funding for my independent research.

That being said, this option is ONLY for the people who are WILLING and ABLE. I appreciate all my readers out there, and I am to offer you all my content and caresheets for free, and I understand not everybody is in a position to contribute. Your readership however is much appreciated. I wouldn’t be anywhere without the people watching my videos and reading my caresheets. Entomology has always been  a collective effort.

2. How is my contribution money applied?

The funding from donations would support:

  • Compensating for the costs of keeping this website up (WordPress cost) – and my many other websites too.
  • Compensating for the cost of livestock (eggs, cocoons, pupae) and the required breeding materials (host plant, cages, containers)
  • The development of my publications (on scientific and informal level)
  • Compensating for the time and costs  involved in giving readings, education on schools, courses in biology of Lepidoptera and more
  • Publishing costs, cost of literature and anything related to scientific projects

Two ways of contributing

Apart from the donation button available on my website, I am also working on my Patreon (click here!) Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows content creators to gain support with their created content.

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The aim of this website is to provide information about many species of moths and butterflies around the world, with a slight focus on rearing them in captivity.