Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Puss Moth Farming

Back on 28/05/2018, I had a great big spanking female Puss Moth in the garden trap.


Given that it was so big and fresh, I had hoped that it was 'virginal' and so I put it in a large box with a funnel over a hole and left it out the next night in the hope of assembling a male. By the morning, there was no sign of a male, the female was still in the box and there was an inch of rain water in the bottom of it. Worse, the female had promptly laid masses of eggs in and around the box, with at least half of them in the water.

I let her go, drained the container, gently patted everything with kitchen towel and left the eggs in the box in the shed to dry out whilst I headed off to Devon. I had no idea if they were viable, and even of they were I feared that the watery start to their development would not help.

When I got back on 02/06/2018, I was keen to get the garden trap out again. Just like busses, another Puss Moth - this one a male.


A day or so later, I carefully transferred the eggs from the large box into a smaller tub. I checked it every day, not knowing if anything would emerge. Then on the evening of 11/06/2017, I checked again and bugger me there were loads of black squiggles mooching about the tub.


It looked like all the eggs had hatched, and I quickly under-guestimated c50 larvae. I spilt them very roughly into two larger tubs with some sallow - it was as arbitrary as the smaller lid went into one and the smaller tub into the other larger tub.

On Tuesday after work I was amazed at how quickly they had part-skeletonized the sallow. I also had a better go at counting them (and found that there were at least a hundred) and I grabbed some 1st instar shots. They were around 10mm, and already waggling about their 'tail' filaments when disturbed.


Today was day 3 after hatching, and they're a little bigger at c12mm. A few have changed to 2nd instar and are showing the distinctive pattern, albeit with completely different colouration to later instars. I've split them into five tubs, and each has c25 larvae.


Rearing all of these is not going to be tenable! From 3rd instar onwards I will be gradually releasing batches into the local area. I will rear a few through to final instar and pupation, as these really are quite funky larvae to see!

1 comment:

Stewart said...

A great tale Mark, I've only seen one caterpillar and that was when I was about 10 years old! Ive only had two adults in the garden so they must be quite thin on the ground up here, but one day I might see another cat, head reared up waving its forked tail at me...