What kind of enclosure do you use for your mot…

What kind of enclosure do you use for your moths? Mine is too small for the bigger guys

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This is how I raised my polyphemus caterpillars. I originally bought these pop-up hampers as emergence chambers–you want your moths to have something to grab onto while they dry their wings and enough space for them to flit around in until you can let them go. And in my situation, I also need to keep them out of reach from 6 cats who are very interested in eating giant moths, so the handles are useful (it’s hanging from the ceiling). For the caterpillars, I put in a piece of cardboard with a circle cut in the bottom, which I suspended a small tupperware filled with water from so keep their branches fresh. When they got bigger (and hungrier), and they could strip the branches bare before they dried out, I took the cardboard out and just threw in branches every night. Below was my emergence set-up. I had two populations of caterpillars I wanted to compare, and the third hamper was the “holding chamber” I would take outside to (attempt to) release them at night.

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The hamper was great for having lots of large caterpillars, but when I just have a few (or lots of smaller ones), I’ll use aquariums. These are normal boring aquariums you can buy from any pet or fish store. The trick: put them on their side. I started this for the stick insects. They would climb out when I was cleaning the tank, which was a hassle because I keep them in an 18 gallon tank and I had to stand on a stool to reach in there. Plus the cats kept getting into the tank, even when I had a million pounds of garbage stacked on top of it. When I put the tank on it’s side this year, it was *so much easier* that I adopted it for the caterpillars too.

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In the upper photo, you can see my stick insect set-up. In the bottom is the tank my three caterpillars are in right now. I have stacks of garbage all over my kitchen counter to keep the cats off (see my pile of bugs that I need to sort to the left of the caterpillar tank? ugh my life is a mess). To keep the babies in, I have a piece of mesh fabric/tulle that is held on with a loop of elastic. For the stick tank, I duct-taped the bottom of the elastic and fabric to the tank, but for the caterpillars, I just use the elastic. I will untuck the fabric out to open the tank, do my fiddling, and then tuck the fabric back in. Easy! One caveat: Depending on the size and determination of the caterpillar, this set-up is easy to escape from. I had a wandering tiger moth last year… I came home to an empty tank and found a cocoon in my purse a few months later.

Another option, great if you need to save money and you have way too many caterpillars (like 30 io moths! eek!): storage bin, drill holes in the lid, viola:

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I don’t even remember what the capacity of this bin is, but it fit my 30 io moth caterpillars AND the entire tree they needed to eat while I was at work (I had to feed them twice a day!). This set-up didn’t have much ventilation so I had to make sure to air them out when I was home (and keep the cats away from stinging caterpillars).

I have a plan to make a larger chamber in a similar construction as the hampers (also lightweight and hangable) with PVC piping and mesh, but I just haven’t had the time. Theoretically that would also be inexpensive, and you can make something like that any size and shape you want.

Hope that helps!