Saturday, April 7, 2012

Week 14: Ilia Underwing

A lesson in Raising caterpillars

Ilia Underwing - Catocala ilia (#8801)
Forewing: 40mm
Also reported in Zones 3,5,6

While I am very quickly becoming familiar with identifying adult  moths, caterpillars are still a mystery to me.  When this caterpillar showed up on our porch on a rainy March 9th, I didn't have a clue what it was.  It was quite large so I thought it might be a sphinx moth but couldn't be sure.  Moth caterpillars can be very specific feeders so if you want to raise one you need to be sure you are providing the right food; whether that is oak leaves, grass, or leaf litter.  However, I believe that, in general, once a caterpillar leaves its host plant it is very close to forming a cocoon.  So, I brought this one in and kept it in a jar with some clover.  By March 12th it had surrounded itself a web of clover and made a cocoon.
On April 4th it eclosed, and I had a nice but slightly rumpled Ilia Underwing.  If you are keeping a cocoon it is very important to provide a branch or some surface for it to climb on to dry its wings.  My Underwing unfortunately had a slight curve at the tip of its wings but was still able to fly. 

Eastern Grass-Veneer - Crambus laqueatellus (#5378)
Forewing: 12mm

The crambid moths are also known as Snout Moths.  This Grass-veneer could be straight out of a Spy vs. Spy comic.

Mournful Thyris -  Pseudothyris sepulchralis (#6077)
Forewing: 10mm
Also reported in Zones 2,3,5

Though I caught this Thyris at my porch light, the Mournful Thyris is also commonly seen taking nectar from flowers in the daytime.  Its striking black and white pattern is hard to miss.

Azalea SphinxDaraspa choerilus (#7886)
Forewing: 30mm 
Also reported in Zones 5,6

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