Trabala vishnou is one of the more common lappet moths of Asia. The larger yellow females are just as colourful as the small, but lime green males. They seem to be very easy to breed in captivity, though the larvae grow slowly for this rather small species. The larvae have beautiful colour patterns aswell.
Trabala vishnou is very polyphagous. I myself have raised them on Quercus and Eucalyptus with good result, however Salix, Rubus, Liquidambar, Ricinus, Rosa and more plants have been reported. It is very worthwhile to experiment a little as the growth rate of the larvae seems to vary strongly depending on what kind of plant they feed on. Like many Lasiocampidae, it is problematic that the tiny males tend to emerge much earlier than the females, making pairings depend a lot on the luck factor. If you are lucky enough to have a male and female out together however, the pairing will probably be very easy to archieve.
The males, which remind me of little green fairies, are about half the size of the big yellow females. They are very hyperactive. Their small size combined with their frantic behaviour makes that they have a very short livespan, only living for a few days. This gives breeders a small timeframe to have females out. The caterpillars are quite colourful and have impressive plumes on their head, together with a yellow or whiteish stripe on their back and blueish spots. Depending on the subspecies their appearance varies – for example ssp. guttata from Taiwan has more hairy larvae with a more pale silvery appearance.
Photo: Larvae of Trabala vishnou
While the larvae vary from pale to yellow, when they are ready to pupate they turn velvety and orange. They seem to assume the prepupal colouration quite early, even a few days before actually spinning cocoons – and definitely much longer before the actual cocoon spinning happens than in most species. It is very easy to raise them in plastic boxes – even in the final instars. However, one must be cautious of infections when doing this. They don’t seem to require much ventilation and tolerate high humidity, but when rearing in such conditions, hygiëne is extremely important.
Trabala vishnou are continuously brooded, and will keep reproducing in captivity endlessly. Cocoons emerge in about 3 weeks time and eggs in about 2 weeks time. Larvae may take several months to grow depending on host plant and temperature.
All in all Trabala vishnou is a fun and easy species to breed, recommended for beginners, and ideal to start with for somebody who has not done not many Lasiocampidae and wants to become familiar with this family.