We have had a number of Imperial Moths come to our deck light the last few weeks. As usual, most of these are males with their big feathery antennae sniffing for wafting female pheromones. We did manage to find 3 females and as expected, they immediately started laying eggs in the paper bags that became their new homes. Mary Bennett also found some eggs and all told we are raising over 240 eggs.
|Imperial eggs with ballpoint pen - REK|
|Imperial eggs day 15 - REK|
|Riding a petiole - REK|
The caterpillars feed on a variety of conifer and deciduous trees. Our caterpillars have been munching leaves of maple, sassafras and sweet gum. We are raising them in plastic containers with tissue or coffee filters on the bottom for convenient emptying of their frass. They are not naturally gregarious but don't seem to mind the company. That is a good thing as with 180 eggs to go, we can't provide individual boxes.
Imperial moths are univoltine, meaning they have just one brood a year. The final instars will be provided soil and leaf litter to crawl into where they will form their cocoons. They will spend the winter in the garage and come out to the Butterfly House in time to emerge for the Butterfly Festival. Then I suspect there will be a several wild and crazy nights in the trees at the Springfield Botanical Gardens.
|Its just frass.|
*You can see the action in the eggs, the caterpillar chew its way out and eat its shell in this Youtube video.
More at Ufl.edu.