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Are Atlas moths legal in US?

Discussion in 'Insects, Other Invertebrates & Arthropods' started by Schledog, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. The Mantis Menagerie

    The Mantis Menagerie Arachnoknight Active Member

    USA
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    7442C66D-2C28-48DD-AA0F-33EF5DCD6803.jpeg
    Those people were right about that saturniid habitat! I was thinking it is a Polyphemus moth cocoon. Am I right? @NathanJBoob?
     
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  2. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Good luck with that. Get a bio-med engineer to walk you through building your first containment. Expect to fail the first 3 or 4 inspections anyway.
     
  3. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    Lol, on the neon luna! You never know what might pop up though!

    As far as finding larvae, the best time is at night with a bright led light. The larvae will be actively feeding and they kinda glow against the foliage. Knowing what food plants are preferred is a must as well. Luna in the northern US prefer Black Walnut and any of the Hickories. If you live where Sweetgum is common then that is a good one to search. I think finding subterranean pupae would be mostly by luck. Finding their larvae would be easiest at night with a bright led
    headlight.

    I do almost all my rearing outdoors in large mesh bags. I use mosquito netting and sew it into large bags. The bags are placed over the appropriate branch and the hatchling larvae placed inside.

    Some species of host plant do better as a cut food than others. Walnut is almost impossible to keep from wilting. Cherry, Oak and Sweetgum branches keep for about 4 days if you recut the end of the branch under water after the first cut. That eliminates air blockage after the first cut and allows the branch to draw up moisture. 0609181615_Burst01.jpg 0609181708.jpg 0609181807.jpg 0613182013.jpg 0901171436.jpg _DSC8641.JPG 0920181752a.jpg


     
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  4. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    Looks like a poly to me!
     
  5. mantisfan101

    mantisfan101 Arachnoangel Active Member

    I’m sort of running out of synonyms for the word “amazing” :) Just a wuick question, but where do you find the cocoons? I know for a fact that giant slik moths live in my area but I have never managed to find one or a caterpillr yet.
     
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  6. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    I personally rely on my own captive breeding to supply cocoons for my own purposes. I do collect some cocoons every year if I find them.

    In my area, cecropia and promethea are the easiest to find because they are usually spun on their host plant and are conspicuous. Cecropia are usually found a foot to just above eye level and they sometimes crawl off their host in order to spin. Promethea spin on their host and often times can be found in groups. In my area, most polyphemus cocoons fall to the ground in the Fall, but I sometimes find them attached to the branch. If you are from the South they will be found suspended on their food plant. I sometimes find poly and luna on the ground by accident! The edges of forested areas, along fencerows and along roads with smaller host trees are good places to look.

    I'm always looking! My job has me in the woods almost every day so I have lots of opportunities to find them. I found promethea and a imperial larvae this past season. Oftentimes last instar larvae will defoliate the ends of branches. If you see a bunch of leaf stems there may be a larva or two within a few inches.

    These photos are of some of my finds at work. 0913181243a.jpg 0706181146.jpg 0312181034.jpg 0104181518.jpg 0308171449.jpg _DSC6078.JPG

     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
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  7. mantisfan101

    mantisfan101 Arachnoangel Active Member

    Ah, now I see what to look for, thanks!
     
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  8. pannaking22

    pannaking22 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    This is a super informative thread, thanks for that! I've been wanting to try my hand with saturniids again after botching cecropia larvae. I'll have to keep an eye out for border saturniids now and see if I can care for them. Might try black witch moths too if I can track down the larvae...

    How long does it take for the larvae to eat through the leaves in the meshed area? Obviously faster for later instars, but I still figure the early instars would eat through it at a good clip. I'm guessing you don't have to worry very much about tachinids then with the mesh?
     
  9. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    Depending on where you're at down there you may have Rothschildia cincta and lebaeu forbesi as well as Eupackardia calleta. These all spin cocoons right on their host. They are all fairly easy to rear as well.

    I use smaller sleeves for hatchlings and tend to crowed them a bit at that stage. They don't really start eating a lot until they reach the end of the third instar. I usually split them up at that time and move them into larger bags. There are so many variables that determine how long it takes them to go through a bag worth of leaves. The first 3 instars is generally spent on one branch. After that I might have to move them once a week or at the end of the 5th instar, ever three days.

    Tachinid flies are no problem in mesh bags, but sometimes different Ichneumons will get one or two.
     
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  10. pannaking22

    pannaking22 Arachnoemperor Active Member

    I've actually found some empty Rothschildia cocoons while visiting the Brownsville area, so those were really neat. Maybe this year I'll be able to get moths or occupied cocoons. They're pretty obvious in the trees once you know what to look for.

    That makes sense. Do you split up the groups as they get larger, or keep them about the same with larger bags?

    I didn't figure the tachinids would squeeze through, but I wanted to check on that since they can be a bit of a menace.
     
  11. Schledog

    Schledog Arachnosquire

    So I do have a poly cocoon I collected in the fall from a caterpillar. How do I get it to hatch? I know it needs to be kept cold but for how long? Also I’m so happy my one question turned into all this, I really want to get some native moths now.
     
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  12. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    Ideally they should be split up after the 3rd instar and moved into larger bags. Some species I tend to crowd a bit. Luna, io and maia larvae can be crowded as long as they have lots of leaves. Most others should be spread out as thin as possible.
     
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  13. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    I leave all my cocoons outdoors over the Winter so that they stay in sync with Spring leaf-out and the emergence of their wild counterparts. Where have you been keeping the cocoon?
     
  14. mantisfan101

    mantisfan101 Arachnoangel Active Member

    How do you collect the adults? I would believe that using light traps at night would be the best method...
     
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  15. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    Collecting at lights is probably the easiest way to find adults. Any females found will have already mated and laying fertile ova.
     
  16. Last year I had some animal (I suspect a bear or raccoon, both are in the area) tear apart three of my polyphemus moth bags and eat most of the cocoons and larvae. It left my cecropias alone. That's another issue to watch out for.
     
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  17. NathanJBoob

    NathanJBoob Arachnosquire

    USA
    I had a bear destroy some bags years ago. It didn't really mess with the larvae though. The bags looked like they went through a paper shredder though! Squirrels are my number one enemy! They chew holes all over the bags to get to larvae and cocoons. They seem to target luna and polyphemus the most.
     
  18. I imagine that cecropias and prometheas might be somewhat distasteful or toxic, given the bright coloration of the larvae.
     
  19. The Mantis Menagerie

    The Mantis Menagerie Arachnoknight Active Member

    USA
    Is it possible to make a metal mesh that would be flexible enough? I would think that animals would not be able to chew through that.
     
  20. I don't think most metal mesh is flexible enough, and you'd be hard- pressed to find mesh fine enough to keep out parasitic flies and wasps.

    I guess the best "maximum security" outdoor setup would be a normal cloth bag with a sturdier metal mesh/hardware cloth enclosure around it, but that makes building a sleeve more complex/expensive and would probably make moving the sleeve when they run out of leaves less convienent. Most people just put their caterpillars in ordinary sleeves and hope for the best since problems with large animals occur only occasionally. I've tried outdoor rearing maybe 4 times and this was the first year I ran into problems, and even then most of my caterpillars reached maturity safely.
     
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