Glumshoe my Polyphemus silk moth jk just emerged and it's September! Should I release her now?
Oh hmmm… did you keep her indoors/near incandescent light? If they get too much unnatural light cycle, they’ll eclose from their cocoons early and not overwinter. I’m not sure where you live, but here it’s too late in the season for a new generation. You might have some luck keeping her in a wide-meshed enclosure outside at night, where any male moths still hanging around might find her… but I’m concerned that even if she laid eggs, there won’t be leaves on the trees long enough for the larvae to grow to pupation and overwinter.
So. Up to you. If you want to try for the slim chance of another generation, go for it… or release her and she may either get lucky on her own or serve as a meal for a hungry owl or bat or something.
A few years ago my mother tried raising luna moths but didn’t know about the light and temperature cycle, so she kept their cocoons indoors over the winter where they stayed warm and were exposed to incandescent light. They ended up eclosing just before Christmas—there was nowhere for them to go, so we just had ~20 giant green moths fluttering around loose inside our house for a week before they died.
This looks like the same Gulf Fritillary butterflies we get up in North America! They range down into South America, too!
The caterpillars eat leaves from the passionvine. There are lots of varieties of this plant. Here are two in Texas:
Passiflora “incense” – I grow this vine in my garden and it takes over the entire back yard! The flowers are huge (see the spider in the right of the photo?) and hummingbirds will even come to feed at them.
We’ve had a lot of small monarch caterpillars on our milkweed plants this summer, but so far none of them seem to be surviving to pupate. They’re supposed to be gross and poisonous, but I don’t think the birds have gotten the memo yet. I just went out and collected as many as I could find—I count eleven caterpillars and one unhatched egg. We’ll take care of them until they’re ready to pupate, and then we’ll set them out on the porch to emerge as butterflies.
A mother butterfly followed me around from plant to plant, laying eggs on one leaf while I plucked a caterpillar from another. Best wishes, ma’am!
Birds aren’t getting them, wasps are. Their larvae eat caterpillars and grubs. If you watch your garden, you’ll see paper wasps wandering around hunting for them.
Bagworm Moth caterpillars collect little twigs and cut them off to construct elaborate tiny log houses to live in (photos: Melvyn Yeo, Nick Bay)
I had to look this up because i thought there was no way these little faerie cabin-building caterpillars were real
I love every single species of bagworm. They are all wonderful. Yes, even the ones everyone hates as tree-killing pests here in the U.S. Here are some cool bagworm things:
In many species, the female never develops wings or in some cases never even develops legs, antennae or a face. She’s just a sausage-shaped egg factory who dies in her bag.
Two very different species are among the world’s few carnivorous caterpillars. One preys on snails and uses its bag to wedge into the snail’s shell. The other builds its bag OUT of body parts from the arthropods it eats and the smell attracts even more tasty things.
Some species not only have females that remain as “bagworms” but have parthenogenetic subspecies with no males at all; entire populations of caterpillars with no moths.
Do they build them first, and then crawl into them?
Do they have freakishly long arms that extend out from the bottom, allowing them to stack ever-higher?
Or perhaps they build them for each other?
Do they ever tweak the architecture, or rebuild from scratch?
They wrap themselves up in silk, just like when other caterpillars would make a cocoon later. Then as they go along feeding, they attach bits of their leftover food, leaves, twigs etc. to the silk bag. They can reach their whole body out of it when they need to stick something on!
As they molt and grow, they keep adding more to the bag around its open end, so the very tip of the bag is what they started with when they were tiny!
Here’s one where you can obviously see the difference between the “newer additions” to the bag (green leaves), and the more established parts (dried up leaves):
Unfortunately, all the bagworms I collected in my yard ended up being parasitized by braconids! Seems the bag doesn’t protect them so much after all!
Every time I mow the lawn I end up bothering somebody.
White-lined sphinx moth. They feed on nectar through a long proboscis while flying and hover in place like hummingbirds.
March 13, 2017. Been spring here for months already.
This was one of my first sphinx moths! And definitely not the last thing I scared out of the yard while mowing. In fact, while mowing recently, I scared up this poor baby:
Gulf Coast Toad. I had to chase the poor thing into the neighbor’s driveway to be able to relocate him somewhere more comfortable (a nice shaded area under my flower bushes with lots of leaves hiding tasty bugs to eat).
This Fiery Searcher Caterpillar Hunter (Calosoma scrutator) bit the daylights out of me (he was fast, I had to hamfist catching him) and then made me smell like hot diarrhea for the rest of the trail. I’ve washed my hands five times since being home. I may never not smell like diarrhea again. 10/10 would touch again.
Time to change your username from tarantulajelly to beetlejuice?
Don’t they leave the best gifts?
July 12, 2019
thank you fro reminding me of the time i got blessed by a tropical millipede
There was that one time I was baptized by an Io moth
I had a Polyphemus moth at an outreach event, and I let her hang out on me because she was so chill, but as it warmed up and the event was ending, she decided she wanted to be free, so she vibrated, peed on my neck (as in, the above), and flew off. Beautiful.
July 12, 2019
april of this year way back when, i wasn’t aware this species (Fiery Searcher,
Calosoma scrutator) used chemical defenses and my monkey brain said “ooga booga touch that cool shiny bug” and I did. and I happened to have my face very close to it. and it sprayed its Nasty Smelling Chemical Cocktail into my eye
That’s worse than me accidentally getting rancid stick insect poop water in my mouth after cleaning their tank (ugh).
I get those kamikaze eye gnats (they specifically fly into your eyeballs) with such frequency that I have to bring saline and an eyewash cup with me when I go hiking/mothing at night. Sometimes I’ll wear my nethat, but when I was in Malawi, the gnats were so small, they could get through the holes in the netting. It was… special.