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Found IO Moth cats!

Posted by flutterby64 7b Dallas, TX (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 25, 11 at 22:03

Today I found several caterpillars on my Japanese maple. I have identified them as IO Moth cats. They are in their final instar and I would love to finish raising them in one of my cages. Could someone please tell me how to provide the proper environment for them to be able to form their cocoons? How long do they stay in their cocoon?

Thanks,
Dana


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

On Japanese maple? That is useful information. I have a big JM and have never been able to find a use for it.

The one time I raised IOs, they did not make it to pupation so this advice is from what I have read. They like to make cocoons using ground litter so have some dead leaves available for them on the bottom of your cage. You use dead leaves so the siblings don't eat the leaves used for the cocoon.

Since you are in TX, they should eclose this year since Texas is multi-brooded.

KC


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Any update? I was curious whether the cats made it into cocoons.

I tried to get some Io cats so I could see if they would eat my JM but things did not work out.

KC


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Texas Io's have only two broods. Yours will pupate, eclose in about 6 weeks if I remember right. You will have a batch of larvae to grow, pupate and diapause until next spring. Io's cocoon on the ground, amongst leaf litter, but do not burrow.

I am thrilled to see Io's anywhere in or directly near the Metroplex! I'm 3.5 hours due east of Dallas now. Yes, I'm in Io country, but it's been such a dry year, leps are way down!


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

KC, thanks for checking back. 8 of the 9 cats made it into cocoon. Sorry your JM experiment didn't work out. I can't believe how much the 9 cats ate! I have 2 good sized JM's that I pruned as I fed them. By the time they were done eating, both trees were noticeably smaller!

TomatoWorm59, you were very accurate on your prediction. My first cat went into cocoon about 6 weeks ago and just last evening, we released our first moth! It was beautiful! My daughter found it about an hour before dusk & brought it out of the cage. (BTW, she noticed it had what looks like a stinger on its rear. Do they sting?) It sat on her finger & we enjoyed looking at it up close. I think it must have just eclosed when she found it because it didn't try to fly for about an hour. We put it on a plant where it stayed still for awhile. Then as it was getting dark, it started "buzzing" along the ground, climbed up a plant and took off. So cool. I hope the other 7 do just as well.

Dana


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Dana, the moths do NOT sting. The protrusion is just a reproductive organ. Automeris moths are highly distinguishable from each other by gender color. In Io's, female moths are clearly 1/3 larger and are a rich mahogany brown, while the smaller males are bright yellow with brown or dark spotting on forewings. Both have the remarkable, realistic eyespots, repleat with glintmark, on their hindwings. They flash these when disturbed.
Take your brown ones and place in the moth cage outdoors. males can detect their pheromones from clear across town. likewise, please release all of your males, so they can find unrelated females to mate with.

You're going ot thoroughly enjoy rearing Io's. Keep ALL of your cats indoors until they turn green. More on that, later. I will walk you through their complete, repeat egg-to-pupa cycle again.
You can NEVER, NEVER have "too many" Automeris io! YOU are now a curator/caretaker of a dying Metroplex species!

My e-mail is sun_dog63[at]yahoo.com


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

TW,

How long does it take Io's to go from egg to cocoon?


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Depends on what part of the country, KC. I remember it taking about 6 weeks from hatch to cocoon, but I have been told Io's in the northern tier take longer, since they are only single-brooded.
The last Io's I reared, was in in the summer of 1977. Literally 34 years ago. I overwintered them--all 24 pupae and released the moths which eclosed around Memorial weekend, 1978.

I did not find them until they were already green and just dispersed. I initially found 25 in all, the average back then per egg cluster. They were confined to a very young hackberry sapling so I could get them all. I switched them to redbud, which they loved. My redbud always had Io's, but I did not always collect and rear, unless I was lucky enough to find an egg cluster or newly-hatched babies.

As long as Io's are BROWN, they cannot sting. Their spines are soft and ineffective. One reason they huddle together and only move in trains. The relatively slow growth of Automeris caterpillars ensures more enjoyment of these beautiful creatures. I used an old aquarium which allowed them to move freely about and be observed by the whole family. As long as there was food, they stayed inside the containers, to, unlike my waved sphinx cats which were wild and roaming.

My last batch--the summer 1977 ones--were all crammed into a big, 32-oz foam drink cup. I had to keep them in my room, and out of sight. My mother pitched my old fish tank since it had cracked glass. She did not think as much of my moth-rearing hobby. Oh well.
My brood did well in the cup crammed with leaves, but one day I came home to find Io's all over my room! They had run dry and chewed through the plastic lid and were soooop hungry. I just missed the one by the light switch by inches. That made my skin crawl, too. I came so close to getting badly stung!!!!

I found all but one. Never found it, period. It went under my door. I never told anyone else, but searched room by room. I will always think it found way into a mouse hole or man-made hole for wiring or plumbing. That's why I only had 24 pupae.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

I have 16 Io cats and I'm raising them on JM. We shall see how things go.

Saturday was the one day a year I spend at a metropark showing off my caterpillars. I had the Io's in a small tupperware container with the lid off. Io cats hang out together so all 16 were busy eating on the same part of the leaf. During the day, I kept flipping their leaf over so people could see the cats (cats wanted to be on the underside). About 3 hours in I flipped the leaf over and no cats. I panicked, looking all over my table for them (they are 1st instar and small). I finally noticed all 16 were playing follow the leader around the top of the container. People went wild for that, the hit of the show. Sometime later, they formed a line that included two right angles. The news spread so people had to come back to see the new line.

I'm not sure which would be voted People's Choice: the line of Io's or the frisky luna pupa. Kids love watching a pupa wiggle and lunas are more than happy to wiggle all day. Most people think a moth eclosing is imminent. They don't believe you when you tell them the moth won't appear until May.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

I believe Lunas pupate amongst the twigs. Io's spin on the ground, but do not burrow. Like Luna, Io cocoons are thin and papery. Brown silk, too.
Dana should have checked back in here..never did. I guess all the moths were simply released, rather than caged [females] to draw in any existing males for more matings and eggs. Oh well. If I can get anyone in the DFW Metroplex to dfind any more Io's--larvae or gravid female moths, I sure want to be a part in rearing them. I can house 100 or 100,000 larvae with my set up and return pupae to whomever gave me a few, so they can release moths back in their area. I intend to get all the public schools involved in the project, so all science teachers will have pupae for eclosing as well.
When one is used ot producing hundreds of thousands of flight-condtioned Bobwhite quail and now lives in the middle of 65 acres of HW forest, what's a few hundred thousand caterpillars?


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Lunas vary. Some will wrap themselves up in leaves on the tree. Others will go down to the ground to find a leaf. Either way, they usually end up in the leaf litter in the autumn.

When I show lunas, I cut open the cocoon so the kids can see the wiggling pupa. It is a huge hit. I did 4 first grade classes today. Because of time constraints, only 2 classes got to the see luna pupa. The kids thought it was awesome. It can be tough convincing them a large green moth will be coming out of that pupa next May.

When I first started doing demonstrations at this school, I did either 11 or 13 first grade classes (mind is going) plus kindergarteners while they waited for their buses. I was there the entire day. They gave me a schedule. They gave me a lunch period. Real official. Not anymore. The number of classes I get to teach each year has gone down and where I go is done on the fly. Last year, I noticed they no longer have monarch caterpillars in their rooms. I found out today that the administration had decided some time ago that learning about butterfly/moth life cycle is a waste of time since life cycle is to be officially covered in 3rd grade. So the teachers who do have me come in are asking for trouble. I had heard from other bug people about this problem but it is the first time that I know it has affected me. I do this all for free to help make sure schools do not have a reason to keep me out but apparently that won't placate some administrations.

Lastly, I did take the Io cats with me today. Unfortunately, they were not in a parade mood. They just all sat on the same leaf the entire time, not even eating.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

TomatoWorm59 said "Dana should have checked back in here..never did. I guess all the moths were simply released, rather than caged [females] to draw in any existing males for more matings and eggs."

Much of my time recently has been spent dealing with family health problems, so I did release the 8 moths. Only 2 were female. So I'm afraid I'm not worthy of the charge you gave me: "YOU are now a curator/caretaker of a dying Metroplex species!" It was an awesome experience being able to raise them, and I am thankful for it.

Kcclark, I enjoyed reading your story of displaying your IO's at the park. Sounds like they entertained a lot of folks with their antics! I hope you have good luck raising them on Japanese maple.

Dana


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Sorry to hear about your family's health issues, Dana. I hope all is well or will be soon. Yes, even just TWO female Io's by drawing in mates, can produce up to 200 [150 is more common] ova.

There are just too few if any Io's left in Arlington and Grand Prairie now.

IF you do happen to find more cats next summer [maybe as a result of your released moths], be sure to bring all of them in for captive rearing.

I'm very good with larvae and will happily rear any offspring from your pupae [after they eclose, mate and lay].

Just keep my e-mail so you can repeat this next summer.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Sorry to hear about your family's health issues, Dana. I hope all is well or will be soon. Yes, even just TWO female Io's by drawing in mates, can produce up to 200 [150 is more common] ova.

There are just too few if any Io's left in Arlington and Grand Prairie now.

IF you do happen to find more cats next summer [maybe as a result of your released moths], be sure to bring all of them in for captive rearing.

I'm very good with larvae and will happily rear any offspring from your pupae [after they eclose, mate and lay].

Just keep my e-mail so you can repeat this next summer.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Found a whole bunch 'o these guys on a hibiscus. Almost literally ran into them as they were on a branch sticking out in my path. Never tried to raise them, maybe will try with this batch.


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

My cats did not make it to cocoon. The JM leaves died off too soon. I tried switching the cats to walnut and sweetgum leaves I have in the fridge but the cats were not interested. But I'm confident that I'll be able to raise IOs on JM in the future. I just have to start earlier in the year.

KC


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

So, how big do the cats get before they pupate?


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RE: Found IO Moth cats!

Had my first ever IO moth eclose yesterday. Raised it from an egg on Japanese maple.

They are just a plain yellow moth (males) and then they raise their forewings. Just gorgeous.

I raised 11. The size of the cats varied. Some were monarch sized. A few got to be 3.5" and were FAT.

Raised all of them in sealed ziploc containers. Changing leaves was a little more complicated than usual since the cats sting but I managed NOT to get stung.

One down side was they stunk. I did not look forward to opening the containers of the 5th instar cats. They are definitely a candidate for using rearing sleeves on the tree. Smell might have been due to the hostplant for all I know. IOW, smell might have been better if I raised them on something like sweetgum.


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