We obtained our first Antheraea polyphemus pairing with a captive female and a wild male.
For the past three weeks, we attempted on nine nights with three different captive females to call in a wild male and failed every single time. The first eight attempts we used a wire cage with 1-square inch holes (which has consistently worked for Hyalophora cecropia females) at various location around town. No wild males ever came, so we eventually resorted to creating inbred hand-pairings with sibling males for the two females that called during those eight nights.
The ninth attempt (last night), we used a new setup because we suspected that perhaps the wire cage was making it difficult for the male to physically locate the female's abdomen (the holes were too small), despite that it worked for cecropias. Instead, we used an upside down laundry bag with the idea that the male could fly directly to the female through the opening at the bottom (a gamble, since the female could itself escape easily through the opening), but still no male came.
Tonight, the tenth attempt, we used the same setup as last night with the females that eclosed yesterday and today and were having serious doubts a male would come. However, to our surprise, around 11:00 PM, we checked and a wild male had flown right into the bag, though one of the females (the one that eclosed today?) had evidently escaped. The male is quite large but definitely smaller than the captive ones that eclosed a while back and seems paler in color. It is in relatively good condition; none of the wings are damaged and minimal scale loss anywhere on its body.
We took the bag inside with the two moths (probably a mistake) and waited to see if the male would pair, but after waiting several minutes it seemed that it was only interested in escaping, perhaps because we disturbed it. Thus, we had to yet again resort to hand-pairing the two moths, which was extremely difficult this time (unlike the two inbred ones with the sibling males) because the wild male seemed quite old and had a very skinny abdomen.
Based on the fact that a wild male finally came after the tenth attempt of setting a female outside to call, it seems that the polyphemus population may just be sparse, perhaps due to staggered eclosions? Or perhaps using the new set-up with the open bag finally allowed males to come in (and the reason we failed the first eight times was indeed because the wire cage physically prevented the male from pairing)? Maybe both explanations could be true. Regardless, we will likely consider using the open laundry bag setup for future attempts if more females eclose this year. For now, though, we are just extremely glad we have finally obtained outbred eggs.
Alan Liang is a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York pursuing an undergraduate degree in entomology. He is co-owner and a main contributor of the Liang Insects blog and photographs.
Ithaca, New York
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations and experiences with various insects (primarily Lepidoptera) around the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, starting from the time we moved here in 2017. As this is a personal blog, we try to keep collections/rearings for university research and course work to a minimum, and mainly focus on just the species we catch and raise for our own fun and interest. Posts prior to this time can be viewed at Timeline 2012-2017: Albany, California, though there is occasionally some crossover when we have returned home during breaks or reared stock derived from home (see Albany, California Updates).
July 2020 (1)
August 2019 (2)
July 2019 (35)
June 2019 (46)
May 2019 (20)
March 2019 (1)
January 2019 (1)
September 2018 (1)*
August 2018 (9)*
July 2018 (11)*
June 2018 (22*)
May 2018 (18)*
April 2018 (2)*
January 2018 (6)
December 2017 (5)
November 2017 (1)
October 2017 (5)
September 2017 (26)
August 2017 (19)
*Currently, a significant portion of 2018 posts are missing. The notes/photos for this time period are saved on our personal files but the posts were never built due to a busy schedule that year. We are still actively building these posts when we have the time.
Full Species List
(Alphabetical by scientific name)
- Not every species we encounter is necessarily presented on this site, rather a selection of those that were of particular interest to us and that we felt were worth documenting.
- We can't guarantee that all species have been identified accurately, particularly taxa we are not as familiar with.
Battus philenor hirsuta
Liminitis arthemis arthemis
Limenitis arthemis astyanax
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Albany, California Updates