Update on new Imperial babies

Catgirl18July 31, 2014

It looks like my recently hatched Imperial Moth babies are eating the white pine!!!! I see lots of frass - hooray, and what looks like tiny pieces of the pine needles falling to the bottom (maybe it's all just frass). Either way things look good!

There is one baby that is much lighter than the others, kinda pale orange. Can't wait to see what color he turns out to look like when bigger.

I separated them into two containers and it's interesting to see how the one group mostly stays on the pine but the other group really wanders. Many of them are on the pine as we'll but a lot of them crawl around the rim of the top, right under the lid and when I open the lid they immediately start crawling out. My family is getting a big kick out of watching me try to herd these teenie tiny little critters back into the container :). Maybe it has something to do with the differences in the two containers?

Thank you so much KC Clark for all of your help and advice.

I do plan on moving them to either an aquarium or maybe a zip top butterfly enclosure so I can fit a bottle with a pine branch in it. When they are this tiny how do you relocate them from one branch to another when you change branches? Or, do you wait until they are a bit bigger to house them this way?

For now I'm just laying a small piece of branch on the bottom of the container. How long can I expect that to stay fresh? It's easy to tell when milkweed is limp and dry, not so much with pine. I would imagine it needs changed way before it would look bad or turn brown. I have plenty, that's not the issue. It's moving them over to the new stuff. I guess I could just put a new piece in then take out the old when most of them move to it.

I'll post again when they're bigger and add some pics. Right now they are so small it's hard to get a clear pic.


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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Congratulations, Cathy! I sure hope you get an orange caterpillar!

The way I keep my host plants fresh, as do most other people, is to take a left overs (for food, like Tupperware) container, punch some holes in the top, put water in it, and then stick the host plant material into the holes. The water will keep it fresh for a period of time, that period depending on what the host plant is. I've never raised any caterpillars on pine, so I have no idea how long it'll stay fresh in water.
I plug some of the holes with a piece of pipe stem cleaner (you can use most anything) and then when I see that the cats have eaten most of the host plant material or the host plant is getting limp or looking stale, I put more host material in one of the other holes and lay the fresh greenery against the old greenery. The cats will travel to the fresh stuff, then you can remove the old branch and replace it with either a pipe cleaner or another fresh branch, depending on how many and how big your cats are.
I also wash my plant material before giving it to the cats, because around here there are so many bugs, spiders, etc., it could endanger the cats.

Good luck, and, again, congratulations!


    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Sherry, what a clever idea using multiple holes. Thanks for the idea. I'm so glad the cats are eating the pine. I couldn't have asked for a more convenient host plant. Not only do I have 10 white pines, but the needles last much much longer than other leaves especially milkweed. It would be great to end up with an orange cat. My grand daughter is the one who got me started raising butterflies/moths, starting with monarchs. She enjoyed it so much that this year when she was so impatient waiting for monarchs she talked me into raising tent caterpillars. While most people are killing them, here we were raising them. They actually turned into pretty tan moths with stripes. She really enjoyed when they hatched because they hung out on her hands for a long time before they fly away. The monarchs take off pretty fast.

She is excited about the imperial cats, but whenever I showed her pictures of the late instar cats she thought they were a little scary/ugly looking. If we're lucky and they make it to moth stage, I know she will be thrilled.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:55PM
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