I don't know much about it, but that seems almost kinda cruel unless you had like a big glass butterfly room..but I'm not sure.
I'd like to know the ID of the moth in this pic- uploaded by BloodFury.
Has anyone actually kept moths? I'm interested in keeping some, only I'd like to know where I can get some species which can still feed and live as adults.
I don't know much about it, but that seems almost kinda cruel unless you had like a big glass butterfly room..but I'm not sure.
I think Carolina Biological sells hornworms, but you might need USDA permits for those.
I think it'd be better to just start a butterfly garden. That way you can attract local species and watch them in the wild. They need lots of space, and the smell of accumulated mycomium from emerging Lepidoptera is not pleasant!
Check out my animal videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/Spineles...s?feature=mhw4
Raising moths... where to start. First of all, you can't really keep adult moths for very long. The one in the photo will not eat as an adult, it will live only a week or so and has lost it's functional mouth, only vestigal remnants of what was once a feeding apparatus. Not all Arctiinae are like this, but many are. Day flyers feed, but many do not. That said, a butterfly or day flying species of Arctiinae might only live 2 weeks on average and requires a lot of time to feed. So it's a trade.
In moths, it's actually not uncommon at all to lose the use of the mouth as an adult, that's why there are so many gigantic moth caterpillars relative to equivalently sized butterflies.
Camden, people keep and rear generation upon generation of moths and butterflies with no trouble at all. It's not cruel, rather it ensures that tons of larvae will survive to adult hood where they would not in the wild. That comes with it's own pitfalls of course, but many moths and butterflies will survive and reproduce quite happily in a captive setting. If you have to preface a statement with "I don't know much about it" then probably reserve your comment until you do a little reading. Avoids having to be corrected in front of people
Note that your time is spent tending caterpillars, not handling pretty adults. You raise them for 1-2 months. If it's in season, they will eclose (=hatching from a pupae) within a couple of weeks or so and then breed and die within the next week. You really need to do a bit of research or you will fail undoubtedly. They have a fairly high mortality rate in perfect conditions so definitely know what you are working with, if you have sufficient food (and I MEAN A LOT of food, they can devour trees if you keep a whole brood), that it's not too humid or dry.
That said, once you get your stock (which I recommend collecting from the wild) and your host and have the rearing bins set up it's not hard at all, just a lot of foot work collecting fresh foliage for them to eat.
The best way to get moths is one of these: collect a freshly eclosed female and bag her to see if she lays fertilized eggs. If you find a female flying around, she has probably bred (for moths). They usually do not take their first flight until they have mated so as to conserve energy as their life is limited by the amount of weight they put on as a pupae. If they waste calories, they have less time to disperse and find a suitable host for their offspring. Second, collect either ova or larvae by searching known host plants. Best to get ova or very early instar caterpillars as older ones that are conspicuously out in the open and isolated are often parasitized by wasps or flies. Third, and the most fun- get a white sheet, put a bright light on it out in a dark place near known host plants and stay up all night monitoring. You can collect a huge number of moths this way. It's called "light trapping," you should google it.
This is all very very brief, I would have to write pages to describe the entire process in detail but it's all well known information and readily available online.
Check out Bill Oehlke's website, world wide Saturniidae. Those are the other easiest and most impressive moths you can raise. I have personally reared thousands upon thousands of various native Saturniidae and to a lesser extent (because they're trickier to find, at least most species) Arctiinae. It's really easy and rewarding, but not nearly as easy as Tarantulas or other predatory organisms that don't eat all day long in huge volume.
Most people who are working with significant number copus a series of host trees so they are manageable in height and then put the larvae on it with screen to detain the larvae and prevent intruders from finding your stock. It's called "sleaving" moths. I'll add a photo of some of the moths I reared last year in a second. You'll like it, it's fun and not at all harmful or cruel to moths.
BUT know that it is 100% illegal to transport moths and butterflies across state lines without a permit. They are all considered agricultural pests, and like all other inverts there are regulations you are supposed to follow. You are far less likely to be granted a permit for a native moth from a state next door then you are getting one for a tarantula shipping from Indonesia. They are unilaterally considered potential pests and as such it is virtually impossible to obtain permits for Lepidoptera without being directly affiliated with some type of official institution with a legitimate need. You can buy anything you want from an in-state source though. And that's also why I mentioned natives- not only are they legal and well adapted to the climate in your area, this means you can get them for free, you can release them if you want (anything not local would obligatorily have to be euthanized), and it also means you will have the host plant around. Not only do they rarely accept alternative hosts (at least happily, sometimes you can substitute but you end up with really tiny gimpy adults that are often not very fit or fertile), not matter how many are listed online, you need to have ready access to the plant in question because if it isn't potted or planted you will be collecting fresh leaves every single day, sometimes twice a day if you are raising even a hundred of something larger like a member of the Saturniidae. I can't stress how much food they will consume. Did I say they eat a lot?
If you are thinking you are going to have your own butterfly exhibit kind of thing, think again. Those institutions raise large numbers of their own stock plus order pupae by the thousands EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Under normal conditions you get bursts of activity every once in a while, then lots of caterpillar time. They get beat up fairly quickly, just like in the wild. And then at the end of the week everything that hatched is twitching on the ground starving to death (assuming you are talking about Arctiinae or Saturniidae or some similar species). Adults are hard to feed, you need huge amounts of fresh flowers or fermenting fruit for some. Best to stick with non-feeding adults until you get the larvae rearing down.
Really though, I stress that this is largely incomplete information and encourage you to google Bill's site. He has a nice article about rearing Actias luna which is the general format for rearing most moths with only changes in diet and possibly winter storage (if you rear at the end of the year many will over winter as pupae- in Arctiinae sometimes they overwinter as larvae even, and some Sats like Hemileuca overwinter as ova).
Contrary to popular opinion, not all moths or butterflies need a lot of space. Some do, just like honey bees vs. bumble bees (bumbles you can keep in a tin can, they never notice that they aren't flying anywhere if you give them food on one side and place to build pots on the other- honey's will bash themselves to death if they can't fly off to forage). Just research what you want to raise, it's not rocket science so I am sure you can find something suitable for your area, etc.
These are all freshly eclosed moths that I reared from wild collected stock last year.
The first one is Eacles imperialis, it's the ventral side. She was hanging on the screen while she expanded her wings. The dorsal is similar, a little bit more mauve colored blotches around the shoulders.
The second one is Hyalophora cecropia.
The last is a male Automeris io. The males are yellow, females are maroon. All of these moths are Saturniidae and all were raised from stock collected locally. I raised about a thousand io moths that year, they ate incredible volumes of Prunus serotina. Probably four or five whole trees worth. Cecropia is fairly uncommon in the south, I reared only a few dozen of them. They are much more common up north. The io moth is the smallest, about 2" for the male. The cecropia and imperialis are both 5-6" across, maybe even a little more depending on the individual. Io larvae sting, unfortunately.
You are seeing them in an "eclosure" chamber- it's a corner shelf with paper towels on all interior surfaces, including the roof of each shelf, and screen draped across the front. It's imperative that they are able to climb up and hang with their wings unobstructed and hanging down or they will not expand properly. They have to start this immediately and if they don't have a sufficient perch they will ultimately end up deformed and have to be euthanized, which is sad. Anything their little tarsi can cling to works fine, I used to keep them in a cardboard box with similar screen and toweling but converted just because I have the space now and it looks nicer.
I am interested in obtaining Horama panthalon for it's striking appearance and apparent legality here. (being both me and the moth live in Texas)
I've read that they fly year round. Do they still have mouthparts and does that mean I'll have a great display specimen year round?
When it says "flies all year" that means adults can be foud on the wing all year. It does not mean that same adult lives all year, it just means it is multivoltine- multiple generations in a year. Luna moths, Actias luna, are on the wing all year here. But the adults only live a week or so. Maybe a little longer in a cooler place, but here in Florida they burn out quickly most of the year.
Horama panthalon is a day flying member of the Arctiinae, you would have to collect either ova/larvae on it's host which I'm not sure is well known or by collecting a colony of adults (locally and legally on property with the owner's permission or on unprotected land) and trying to rear. These are going to eat. They are day flying. They visit flowers much of the day.
Syntomeida epilais is another moth in that format you might like, it's caterpillars are commonly found on Oleander. I don't know if they're in Texas or not though, but often if you look at garden centers at their Oleander you can find them. Even though it is illegal for you to move larvae around, big agricultural business can via their products. Lots of pests get introduced that way.
One of the most beautiful is Dysschema howardi. Look on BugGuide.Net for a huge selection of photos organized by taxon, the Erebids are really impressive. Far better than butterflies.
Why did you raise so many moths? Just curious what you do with them
The ones outside ravaged my tomato plants.
"There is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance." --Neil deGrasse Tyson
The rest of them I release. The Io moth pictured, for example, was derived from a single female caterpillar I found on the ground after I rain storm. I reared it out, it was female. I allowed the female to call males in, captured a male and introduced them. They mated, she laid about 250 or so ova. I raised all of those, bred a female and raised all of those, and so on. Went through about 5 generations which is more than normal for me but I really enjoyed that species. Now they're all wild again. My hope is that it will boost the population even slightly as there is a lot of suspicion that many of these great moths are slowly dwindling as more and more light pollution confuses them and prevents many of them from finding mates before they die. But even if not, the birds will have some extra food then lol.
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Look around you, at porch lights, gas station lights, under leaves and for cocoons in trees in the fall. There are lots of fascinating moths and butterflies no matter where you live. No reason to covet the gaudy exotic Papilio species, there are awesome Lepidoptera (and Coleoptera- I raised Eastern Hercules, Dynastes tityus, collected locally at gas station lights last year) everywhere to work with.
Thats really cool. I just wondered. My daughter and I raise monarchs every year just for the enjoyment. One year we raised painted lady butterflies. Awesome project and good luck to you.
I get a lot of enjoyment out of them. I suppose you would have to in order to want to do the work. I really like the caterpillars just as much as the adults, there are some absolutely amazing caterpillars in the US and their appearance changes a lot from first to last instar. In Ohio you should be able to light for moths really well during the summer. Down here the season is spread out and we have so many paper wasps that there aren't as many around at once or as many species of large fancy moths. Up there you can find them all in a few short months so the density is much higher. Try the light trapping or gas station checking, I bet you find some neat stuff.
Great that you do this with your daughter, always good to get their minds on the right path early! Who isn't amazed by metamorphosis anyway?
We do put out lights with white sheets in the summer, my neighbors think I've lost it im sure! Lol.
What do you mean by gas station checking? Literally checking gas stations?
Im a entomologist wanna be so I hunt everywhere for insects and arachnids
I have a passion for science and I knew when I had kids I wanted to pass it on. Who cares if im a 32 yr old kid?? Lol
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