What could I feed cecropia caterpillars if there are no leaves on the trees yet?

InvertsandOi

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I have a chance to purchase some Hyalophora cecropia eggs that should be laid any day now. The problem is that the trees here in Michigan are just beginning to bud, and although I believe we should have green leaves by the time the eggs would hatch (three or four weeks from now), I don't know for sure. I'm not going to purchase them if there is a chance that I won't have food for the caterpillars when they emerge. I was wondering if anybody knows if there is anything that is already green that I could feed them, or if they'll eat something that I can buy like romaine lettuce or something. I tried to inquire about this with the seller, but they just replied that they can't send them to me if I can't feed them.
 

NathanJBoob

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I wouldn't try it. Cecropia larvae can be touchy to rear and having the appropriate food plant is vital in getting them through. If it was Automeris io you might have a chance! It's also a good idea to know what their parents were reared on as they tend to have regional food preferences.

Cecropia are easy to get so I wouldn't rush it. I'll have thousands of eggs towards the end of May. You can hit me up then when leaves are abundant.
 

InvertsandOi

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I wouldn't try it. Cecropia larvae can be touchy to rear and having the appropriate food plant is vital in getting them through. If it was Automeris io you might have a chance! It's also a good idea to know what their parents were reared on as they tend to have regional food preferences.

Cecropia are easy to get so I wouldn't rush it. I'll have thousands of eggs towards the end of May. You can hit me up then when leaves are abundant.
Thank you for the reply. I'm fairly new to lepidoptera and didn't know how hard or easy Cecropia are to get a hold of. I'm sure I will be contacting you in May.
 

NathanJBoob

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Thank you for the reply. I'm fairly new to lepidoptera and didn't know how hard or easy Cecropia are to get a hold of. I'm sure I will be contacting you in May.
They're pretty popular and a lot of people have them. I have them every year. The adults here in PA. usually start to emerge around Memorial Day weekend.
 

blacksheep998

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I'd also wait until warmer weather, but Cecropia caterpillars do have a pretty wide range of host plants. Some are even evergreen, like Photinia × fraseri. Which is a fairly common landscape plant around here.
 

InvertsandOi

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I'd also wait until warmer weather, but Cecropia caterpillars do have a pretty wide range of host plants. Some are even evergreen, like Photinia × fraseri. Which is a fairly common landscape plant around here.
Really? That's interesting. I just looked up Photinia fraseri and it doesn't look familiar. It might not be very common around here.
 

NathanJBoob

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While they do have a very extensive list of food plants they will usually do best on plants that are a preferred choice in the area their parents came from. Even better is the plant their parents fed on as larvae.

An example would be me taking larvae from my locale and trying to rear them on Box Elder or Black Walnut which are very common species here. They are marked favorites south of me, but cecropia from my area almost always become diseased when reared on these. Some will make it, but they will usually be undersized pupae and they may perish before emergence.
 
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InvertsandOi

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While they do have a very extensive list of food plants they will usually do best on plants that are a preferred choice in the area their parents came from. Even better is the plant their parents fed on as larvae.

An example would be me taking larvae from my locale and trying to rear them on Box Elder or Black Walnut which are very common species here. They are marked favorites south of me, but cecropia from my area almost always become diseased when reared on these. Some will make it, but they will usually be undersized pupae and they may perish before emergence.
What do you feed your Cecropia?
 

NathanJBoob

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What do you feed your Cecropia?
I've found out that my stock does best and get the biggest on Wild Black Cherry and Silver Maple. Those are usually what I use. They will however do well on many others such as Pin Cherry, Crabapple, willows, dogwoods, and lilac just to name a few. I've had good success with those as well.

Most wild cecropia cocoons I find are on the cherry. The cocoons pictured were found on Black Cherry.
 

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InvertsandOi

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I've found out that my stock does best and get the biggest on Wild Black Cherry and Silver Maple. Those are usually what I use. They will however do well on many others such as Pin Cherry, Crabapple, willows, dogwoods, and lilac just to name a few. I've had good success with those as well.

Most wild cecropia cocoons I find are on the cherry. The cocoons pictured were found on Black Cherry.
Oh very cool! I didn't know they worked leaves around their cocoons. You know, I'm excited to learn as much about lepidoptera as I can, and I've been wanting to get myself better acquainted with tree species for years. It looks like one will lead to the other. Right now I can differentiate between oak and maple, and that's about it.
 

NathanJBoob

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Oh very cool! I didn't know they worked leaves around their cocoons. You know, I'm excited to learn as much about lepidoptera as I can, and I've been wanting to get myself better acquainted with tree species for years. It looks like one will lead to the other. Right now I can differentiate between oak and maple, and that's about it.
The smaller cocoons were Promethea, I forgot to mention that. They always wrap themselves in a leaf.

Well, get yourself a good field guide for trees in your part of the country and let the fun begin! You can probably get one off ebay cheap. I have acquired a few over the years.
 
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