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Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis

Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis
Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, USA
August 31, 2006
Size: 65 mm
I gave the caterpillar a gallon of sandy soil in which it eventually dug down when it realized there was no escaping my rearing container. Three days after it buried itself, I dug it up and it still hadn't pupated! Some time between August 23 and August 31 it formed this pupa, which I dug up and washed for photos, then reburied.

Images of this individual: tag all
Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis Imperial Moth Caterpillar - Eacles imperialis

okay, that was very helpful! but this is where im at now: he burried himself, stayed there for a few hours, but i think he wasnt comfy enough cuz he came back out, moved around, and went back to that spot an i gave him some more leaves...should i really try to cage it off outside, or make like a terrarium inside? i really wanna see all this happen, i dont really care for moths, i like butterflies and hummingbirds. but, having this special priveledge in my own backyard is very exciting! should i try to make him more comfy or leave it alone? i have no idea what im doing an i dont wanna miss any of are they poisonous? i was always told that if theyre brightly colored they could be poisonous. are they restless like this for a bit? where else can i find more info? this is the best site ive found, but im very curious!

If your moth hasn't pupated yet
you can definitely set up a container indoors so you can watch the whole process. I suggest a few inches of loose soil and a few more inches of leaves. The container should have enough room above soil level for the moth to emerge and fully expand its wings - cloth or something with good traction for it to climb on at that stage is essential, too.

BTW Bright colors might indicate a caterpillar is poisonous to EAT - since you're not eating it, I wouldn't worry :) You should avoid handling it in case you injure it, though. See also the article I wrote on Raising Caterpillars, - it's linked in my user profile, and can be reached by clicking on my name.

Note: to others subscribed to this image - this is a continuation of a discussion on another pupal image here.

this pupa was parasitized by four tachinid fly larvae which emerged as adults 09/28/06.

Not a good idea
The caterpillar would have spun a very flimsy silk cocoon underground. This would have isolated it from the soil. By digging it up you destroyed the cocoon. That's OK. But by re-burying it, sand is likely to get between the segments, i.e., on the intersegmental membranes. Now when the abdomen wriggles the sand will damage the extremely thin waterproof layer of wax. The result could be fungal infection or dehydration either of which is likely to cause death. Best thing to do now is dig it up, give it a good wash and keep it in a clean container. The diatomaceous earth used for cockroach control works on this principle, it erodes, by abrasion, the wax covering on the cockroach allowing for dehydration. Wax coatings on insects are only a few molecules thick.

Uh-oh! Thanks, Tony
I will do so immediately. I'll know better next time!

I hope I haven't destroyed it out of curiosity :(

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