Saturday, 28 November 2009

Same situation with the buff-tips. None pupated. However, I do know that they lie in their cocoons for a long time before pupating, so I do not necessarily have to give up on them.
A friend is sending me 25 December moth eggs which he got from a female caught in his garden. These will hatch in the spring.

Friday, 20 November 2009

No buff tips have actually pupated yet, some have gone black and died, and one or two are still feeding. I feel ready to give up on them. There should be no such thing as a buff tip caterpillar in the middle of November! Luckily I found a small birch by the river with quite a lot of good green leaves. Hopefully they will do alright.
The other lappet has disappeared, but I am quite certain that he has simply moved to some other branch to hibernate and I never saw him go. I will find him soon enough.
Not much else going on. The Jersey tigers are getting bigger, which is good, and they are happy on their potted nettles.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Update on larvae

These buff tips are having me tear my hair out. A few of them are definitely about to pupate, but are making no effort to make a cocoon. The others are still feeding, but what will they do when the leaves have all gone yellow?

A lappet has disappeared. He could have shifted to another part of the bush, but he also could have fallen off or become prey to a bird. I hope it is okay.

The Jersey tigers have been relocated to new living quarters - live nettles in a plant pot with mesh covering it, to prevent the larvae from escaping. They seem happy enough. They will spend the winter among the nettles outside, so they can hibernate naturally. The biggest ones are about 2cm now, but they will really start to grow after the winter. 23 of them, one got diarrhoea about a week ago and died.

Am about to order 15 oleander hawkmoth (Daphnis nerii) eggs, which will come in December, and 15 Puss moth (Cerura vinula) eggs, which will come in May. These will be ordered from Worldwide butterflies of course.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

After ther lappet moulted in a container in the garage, I put him back on the hawthorn tree. I had the lappet in a container because while moulting, he couldn't hold onto the branch and he fell off. Luckily, I noticed and put him in the container.
False alarm for the Buff tips - they aren't about to pupate. They did start eating, and the runny frass was a bit of mild diahorrea caused by rain on the foodplant.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Another thing

Last night I also ordered some livestock from the Worldwide Butterflies website ( - 15 eggs/10 larvae of the Death's head hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos), 15 eggs/10 larvae of the Lime hawkmoth (Mimas tiliae), 30 eggs/20 larvae of the American Moon Moth, or Luna moth (Actias luna) and 5 cocoons of the Giant Atlas moth (Attacus atlas). None of these species are native in Ireland (the Death's head hawk is an occasional migrant, one being recorded in the north, in Letterkenny this year - it is an African moth after all), with the Death's head being an African and southern European, the Luna moth being North American, the Atlas moth being Indonesian, and the Lime hawk being english and European.

WWB is a good lepidoptera livestock company and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in breeding various British moths and butterflies, and exotic silkmoths from all over the world.

Pupating at last

Hooray! A couple of the biggest of the French Buff tips are showing signs of wanting to pupate (and it's about time!). They have stopped eating and their frass is runny and discoloured. I have put them in a pot of soil with leaves on top, that they may make a cocoon under the soil and pupate in there. Let's hope it all goes smoothly. The pre pupation larvae are smaller (2 in) than full grown NI buff tips I have bred, but I suppose that's the French for you.
Photo is of one of these fully grown ones that are about to pupate.
One of the Great lappets from france is about to moult. The first few nights of frost, they have stopped eating and perhaps will start to hibernate soon.
Jersey tigers all doing well

Monday, 2 November 2009

Not many caterpillars to be found this time of year - the temperature has suddenly dropped and I will have to start searching next May (a good time for caterpillars), then August (an even better time for them).

Sunday, 1 November 2009

1st November 2009

A few caterpillars still around, mostly those that will hibernate as larvae, inc. a couple of dark tussock (Dicallomera fascelina), yellow tail (Euprocitis similis), foxmoths (Macrothylacia rubi) several ruby tigers (Phragmatobia fuliginosia), 25 Jersey tigers (Euplagia quadripunctata) and a couple of Great Lappets (Gastropacha quercifolia). The last two species I got in France, as they are not resident in Ireland. The lappets have not done terribly well, because I originally had about 30 and now I have 2 - perhaps the problem was overcrowding. The last 2 are now on the hawthorn bush in the garden, where they seem to be doing well.
I still have 22 buff tips (Phalera bucephala) which are due to pupate soon (and they had better, the leaves on the birch tree are going yellow) and they are about 2 inches long now, perhaps 1 more moult before final instar, but not sure.
Plenty of pupae in the pupa box in the garage - eyed hawk, poplar hawk, small chocolate tip, early thorn, pebble prominent, pale prominent, buff tip, narrow bordered bee hawk, emperor moth, knotgrass, broom moth, sallow kitten, pale tussock, miller, grey dagger, birch mocha and a few others. Hopefully they will hatch next year.