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Emperor moth caterpillars

PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul 2016 15:15
by PaulD
I caught several female emperor moths in Wester Ross in May. One laid some eggs on an egg box and they hatched. I reared them on silver birch leaves and all 30 are now chrysalis. Has anyone any hints as to how I should overwinter them please? Should I put them in a cold shed? Will this be too dry or do they need moisture?

Some of the caterpillars had magenta coloured spots, others yellow, others almost white. Some had more black markings. Is this usual to have such a variety of colourings?

Re: Emperor moth caterpillars

PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug 2016 07:36
by MarkCubitt
Hi, the following comment has been provided by Roy Leverton who has great experience in moths and rearing them:

The spots (tubercules) on Emperor caterpillars are well-known to vary in colour - see ukleps.org. As for keeping cocoons, they should be kept in a shed or unheated garage exposed to outdoor temperatures and air humidity, not in a centrally heated house. But do protect from mice, spiders and so on. There can be a problem when rearing Emperor because the cocoon is so strong. Under natural conditions the silk degrades slightly over the winter when exposed to rain, wind and sun. In captivity this does not happen and the moth may have trouble breaking out. I doctor the neck of the cocoon in spring with nail scissors to make it easier for the moth, though obviously that's a delicate business and great care must be taken not to injure the pupa.


I hope this helps
Mark

Re: Emperor moth caterpillars

PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug 2016 13:33
by PaulD
Thanks Mark, that was very helpful. They are now protected in the shed and i will use the nail scissors carefully next spring!

regards

Paul