Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tuesday 3rd. June 2014

A grey , wet morning at least gives me a chance to catch up on the 'little jewels' , mentioned in my last post and some other interest .
These are some of the 'little jewels' that have been entrusted into my care . I have six of these Emperor Moth caterpillars to look after . Martin tells me that they will pupate in a week or so , meaning that the supply of Bramble leaves that they devour at a rate of knots will end , and once tucked up in their cocoons , will lie dormant till next Spring . It's a first for me doing anything like this , so I hope that it will be successful , and if so , will post pictures of the adult moths when they emerge . While at Martin's , I couldn't resist a look at his greenhouse / butterfly house , and with his permission , post a few shots of the tropical beauties flying around nectar sources and his other

passion , Passionflowers . I hope I get the names right , this one being 'Postman' ,

this is Cydno ,

and this is Zebra , who just would not allow a decent open winged shot . But also in there , were a

pair of Elephant Hawk Moths , recently hatched . Female above with the broader abdomen . Since taking the shots , Martin tells me that they have paired and now he has several eggs , layed on their foodplant Willowherb , which just happens to be growing amongst the other plants . No doubt , she will lay many more eggs in the coming days . I might just get the opportunity to photograph the green stage of the larvae if Martin breeds them on , as I have only seen and photographed the brown , later stage .
Martin also showed me a recent acquisition from the garden , a 'wooly bear' , the larvae of the Garden Tiger moth . He tells me that this larvae has already started to pupate . If the excitement of seeing the beautiful butterflies wasn't enough , when Martin opened one of his pots to show me an Elephant Hawk Moth cocoon that hadn't made it through pupation , it was raised to another level , when movement and a whirring of wings had him quickly replacing the lid . A plastic box was found , and Martin managed to reopen the pot inside the box and closing the lid before anything escaped . This is
one of two Ichneumons , at rest on top of the EHM cocoon , that were in the pot , photographed through the plastic box . Martin has managed to ID the Ichneumon , Amblyjoppa proteus , a species that preys on EHM larvae . It's parent would have layed eggs directly into the EHM larvae , these would then have laid dormant until after the EHM larvae pupated . Then the eggs would have hatched and the Ichneumon larvae eaten the contents of the cocoon , before they pupated inside the cocoon and finally hatching themselves and breaking out as adults . Just as well they didn't escape when Martin opened the pot . For anyone interested , Martin found a series of shots of the adult breaking out of the cocoon . Google 'Amblyjoppa proteus' then scroll down to the bottom of the second page to an entry entitled 'May 30 - eircom.net' , where the pictures can be found , well worth a look .


Warren Baker said...

Need some flutters like that here Greenie!

Good luck with the moff caterpillars, look forward to some excellent macro shots of them! :-)

Rodney Compton said...

Very interested in the advanced state of the emperors - mine, that are sleeved on to willow and reared from nature are still in their first instar. I would like to know where martin's caterpillars originated.

Spock said...

The Emperors are from Essex, where my friend was given a wild female, which called in a wild male. Last year he had a Death's Head caterpillar brought in.