Advice for rearing sphinx moth cat

shannon74August 9, 2010

Hi everyone

I have only ever raised GSTs, have released about 30 now. My husband found a cute little sphinx moth cat on the trumpet vine and I think I may try my hand at raising him, there are so many wasps and other predators on that vine I am worried he might not make it out there. Anyway, he is happily chomping away on the trumpet vine in a container (how great is it to raised something that eats a plant that grows like a weed instead of having to demolish my citrus trees!).

I only wondered what I need to provide for him to pupate, just leaves or does he need dirt as well? I was concerned about putting dirt in there and there being some sort of spider/bug/etc. in the soil that might harm him.

Also, I am in the North Texas area, not sure of the zone, but it is plenty warm through October, will he overwinter or emerge this year?

Thank you!!

Shannon

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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Is it a Trumpet Vine sphinx aka Plebeian Sphinx feeding on the common Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, or are you talking about Honeysuckle, Lonicera, in which case it is probably a Snowberry Clearwing. The Trumpet Vine sphinx has a blue horn, and can get quite large, while the Snowberry Clearwing is a much smaller cat (smaller adult moth), green with longitudenal brown stripes on the underside, with blue spiracles.

I usually raise my sphinx in a large plastic container, in which I have about 4-5" of potting soil in the bottom. When they are ready to pupate they will bury themselves in the soil to transform into a naked pupae. I put some wooden skewers or small branches in the container as well, so they can climb on them to dry their wings after they emerge.

Since it is only August, your moth will probably emerge before winter.

Susan

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 8:53PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

If you put paper towel in the bottom to catch the frass. I usually change the paper towel to remove the frass. Later, it will go under the paper towel. I don't think they really need the soil to pupate.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 9:51PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I usually suggest to beginners that they use potting soil, Runmede, because it is a bit moist out of the bag. If the naked pupae get too dry, they will dessicate. Once that method is used successfully, I then recommend or suggest using shredded paper towels, and that they be spritzed a bit. The sphinx and other moths can tolerate a bit more moisture than the butterflies, and in fact, it is necessary for many of them to survive, while butterfly larvae often succomb to various diseases if there is too much moisture in their containers.

Both methods work well, but just a little differently.

Susan

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:30AM
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shannon74

Thanks to both of you for your advice! I guess I will go ahead and use potting soil to be safe. I am glad you said that about the moisture though, as the soil I have is pretty old from a houseplant I have that died. It is really dry. Is it OK to wet it or should I get a new bag? Also, once he pupates how often should I mist the soil?

Thank you!!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 8:25AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Sure, go ahead and dampen it, but not too much. And don't forget the sticks! Otherwise, they will end up with crumpled wings.

Good luck and let us know how things turn out!

Susan

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 7:13PM
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