Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Cocoons for 2013-2014 Season

Last week I received my order of cocoons and pupae (see Rearing Lepidoptera for information about where I purchase these).  It always feels like Christmas when they arrive! They should all emerge next spring, and I will give more information about each species at that time, along with photos of the adults.
The two large cocoons on the left in the photo are Cecropia Moths, Hyalaphora cecropia.  I have purchased a few of these before but have had limited success in getting the adults through the winter, but my methods seem to have improved, since I have had nearly 100% survival and emergence the past couple years.  I was also excited to see the dark-colored cocoon; Cecropia cocoons are usually the lighter brown color as in the upper left cocoon.  I had read that they also spin darker brown, almost reddish, cocoons, but have never seen one before.
The two gray cocoons on the right are Cynthia Moths (aka Ailanthus Silkmoth), Samia cynthia.  I purchased a cocoon of this species many years ago when I first started rearing moths, but it never emerged, so I hope to have better luck this time.  This species is native to China, and was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s in an effort to establish our own silk trade (which never took off).  The moths are still found scattered along the northeast coast, and feed on the introduced Chinese tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima).
The shiny light brown cocoon, center left, is a Cincta SilkmothRothschildia cincta, which is found in southern Arizona and Mexico.  It is quite an active little thing, the pupa inside the cocoon keeps wiggling and making rustling noises!
The fuzzy brown cocoon in the middle is the Rocky Mountain Agapema, Agapema homogena.  It is primarily found in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico.
The big black pupa is the Imperial Moth (aka Yellow Emperor), Eacles imperialis.  It is widespread through the eastern half of the US, but is fairly uncommon.
The small pupa on top is an Eastern Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes asterius.  It is also found in most of the eastern half of the US.