Rearing notes for our achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon). This stock originated from Utah, September 2016.
Rearing Notes 5/8/17-5/16/17:
The first of our achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) eclosed from a post-diapausing pupa. The stock originated from Utah, September 2016.
It was already quite apparent yesterday that our achemons were going to eclose very soon due to the wing patterns becoming visible on the pupa, and today the first one eclosed into a male. The moth is truly stunning - probably one of the best looking sphinx we've seen. It's genus name means "well-formed" after all. The wings are narrow and triangular, and the body is long and cone-shaped, creating a very "pointy" look. The eyes are very large and translucent with dark pupils, and the antennae are thin. The legs are long and thin, and have structures extending from each joint.
The wing patterns are not extremely intricate, but create a very nice "smooth" look due to the various shades of grey and tan blended together. The hind wings, like many sphinx, have a pinkish color blended into the tan which is what really makes the moth a showy one. However, they are only displayed when the moth is in flight or it spreads its wings wide when disturbed. The underside of the wings is just tan, besides the pink on the hind wings. The body is tan with a slightly pinkish shade to it and the appendages are pale.
The moth is actually quite tame, unlike our lineata that have just started emerging as well. It spreads its wings wide like Smerinthus genus moths when disturbed despite not having eyespots, though the pink hind wings are aposematic. The moth's flight is extremely rapid and powerful just like other sphinxes, but also very controlled, as it lands very gracefully. The jet like shape of the wings is probably a factor in these moth's amazing flight skills.
Hopefully more of these will eclose over this week and maybe we might have a slim chance of pairings and eggs. However, this species and others in the Eumorpha genus are said to be almost impossible to breed in captivity, which is very unfortunate as the larvae are very easy and fun to rear. We'll really miss them if we can't get any this year.
Our achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) pupa are finally showing visible development and are near eclosion.
Yesterday we discovered our Hyles lineata pupae were about to eclose, and now it looks like our achemons are about to as well. The visible development on the pupa is quite difficult to see as the cuticle is thick and dark. However, if inspected closely, black markings can be seen on the wings. The pupa also feels slightly looser.
Taking Antheraea polyphemus Cocoons and Eumorpha achemon and Hyles lineata Pupae out of Cold Storage
We took our diapausing polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) cocoons and achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) and white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) pupae out of cold storage.
We were initially planning on staggering the times we took all of our species out of cold storage (which we did with the first few), but after we thought about it for awhile we just decided to go ahead and take the remaining species out except Samia cynthia cocoons. Simply put, we'll be leaving for college by August this summer which means we have almost no time to loose if we plan on rearing all of these, plus any new species we get this year. Most host plants look almost ready anyway despite being just March. It'll probably take two months for the pupae to eclose, the moths to pair and lay eggs, and the eggs to hatch. Then it'll be another two months for all the larvae to mature and pupate. So, that's four months for each species meaning if we want them in the pupal stage by August, so now's just about the right time to take them out. We can't afford to wait another month or two. However, we'll hold off on the cynthias for a little longer since those usually grow much faster than a large species like polyphemus.
We have begun overwintering our Saturniid (giant silkmoth) and Sphingid (sphinx) pupae.
It's a little late to begin doing so, but we finally got around to overwintering our diapausing pupae in the refrigerator at 40 F (4-5 C). The species we were sure would need this overwintering treatment were cecropia (Hyalophora cecropia), polyphemus (Antheraea polyphemus), imperial (Eacles imperialis), modest sphinx (Pachysphinx modesta), achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon), and white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) since the stocks orginated from regions with very cold winters. The only diapausing Saturniid/Sphingid pupa we didn't put in the fridge was Smerinthus ophthalmica since it was obtained locally and it does not even get close to 40 F here.
To overwinter the pupae of the six mentioned species, we simply dumped them all in various airtight contaners lined with paper towels with a drop of water. Dissapointingly, when we weighed the cecropia cocoons just to see if any had died since the time that they spun in July and August, we discovered two had lost a significant amount of mass and were therefore likely dead. All the other pupae/cocoons of the other species seemed alive. We will probably take them out of the fridge once the trees start growing leaves again (March or April 2017) and will check on them every few weeks just to make sure no mold forms.
Rearing notes for our Achemon Sphinxes (Eumorpha achemon). These were originally obtained as eggs obtained from a Utah breeder and reared indoors on grape (Vitis). They began pupating on 10/20/16.
Rearing Notes 10/21/16-10/27/16:
Our first Achemon Sphinxes (Eumorpha achemon) have pupated.
After eight days (10/12-10/20) in the prepupal stage, our oldest Achemon Sphinxes pupated. The first was a male and already tanned into a reddish brown when we first checked. The second was also male, but unfortunately, it was injured on the wing when we found it, perhaps from the movement of all the other prepupae in the container, and lost considerable hemolymph. The cut seems to have clotted for now, but we do not know if it will survive. We caught the third pupate on video, shown below, and it turned out to be a large female.
The morphology of the Achemon sphinx pupa is quite interesting compared to other Lepidoptera we have reared before. The thoracic and first few abdominal segments covered by the wings are very elongated, making the pupa length very long. The head is small and pointy, but has proportionately very large eyes and proboscis. Matching the extremely long proboscis in length are the legs and forewings which are all extremely elongated compared to most other Lepidoptera pupae. A side by side comparison with a Smerinthus ophthalmica pupae shows the differences in shape and proportions of the the two species. The fully tanned pupa is a dark reddish brown, but the teneral pupa is bright yellow and quickly turns golden brown. The cuticle is shiny, hairless, and smooth. Interestingly, the white notched lateral spots that were on the caterpillar's body remain on the pupa's cuticle right after pupation but fade away as it tans.
Rearing notes for our fifth instar Achemon Sphinx caterpillars (Eumorpha achemon). These were obtained from a Utah breeder and reared indoors on grape (Vitis).
Rearing Notes 10/3/16-10/19/16:
Fifth Instar Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) Caterpillar Eating Grape (2)
Fifth Instar Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) Caterpillar Eating Grape (3)*
*Shown in 8x speed
Fifth Instar Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) Caterpillar Eating Grape
Rearing notes for our fourth instar Achemon Sphinx caterpillars (Eumorpha achemon). These were obtained from a Utah breeder and reared indoors on grape (Vitis).
Rearing Notes 9/27/16-10/2/16:
Our oldest Achemon Sphinx caterpillars (Eumorpha achemon) have ecdysed into fourth instar.
Yesterday, a few of our Achemons entered apolysis and we weren't sure if they were going to ecdyse today or tomorrow, but a few of them did it this evening. There are a few changes in the fourth isntar, most noticeably the body patterns. The white notched spots on each abdominal segment on the lateral sides are very clear and defined now, and there are many small whites spots all over the body, being more numerous and larger on the thorax. These patterns make the caterpillars more textured and attractive, with the white spots giving the body more definition in our opinion. Another change is the body color -- this is the instar in which color variants ranging from green, orange, red, brown, to grey begin appearing. All four that ecdysed today are in the orange-brown range, each varying slightly in shade. Interestingly, they were completely green when teneral, and the color change came with the melanization afterwards. Almost all the other caterpillars are in apolysis and will ecdyse tomorrow, so we're hoping to see other color variants. A few other changes in the fourth instar are that the thorax is now very thick and will likely become thicker as the caterpillars grow, and the horn, though still quite long, is shorter in relation to the body, and the button like dot at the base is larger and silver in color.
These fourth instars spent just 5 days in the third instar from 9/22-9/25 and have already caught up with the Opthalm Sphinx caterpillar which also ecdysed into fourth instar today. The Achemons spent just 4 days in second instar from 9/18-9/22 and 6 days in first instar from 9/12-9/18, making it the fastest growing Sphingid relative to its size that we have reared so far.
This timeline is a series of daily posts recording our observations on and experiences with various insects in Albany California and surrounding areas, from 2012-2017. Since we did not publish this site until 2016, posts before that were constructed retroactively. Starting in August 2017, we moved to Ithaca, New York; posts from there on can be viewed at Timeline 2017-present: Ithaca, New York.
August 2017 (49)
July 2017 (121)
June 2017 (79)
May 2017 (77)
April 2017 (91)
March 2017 (35)
February 2017 (12)
January 2017 (10)
December 2016 (12)
November 2016 (26)
October 2016 (49)
September 2016 (84)
August 2016 (94)
July 2016 (99)
June 2016 (53)
May 2016 (21)
April 2016 (4)
January 2016 (1)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (3)
June 2015 (2)
June 2014 (3)
May 2014 (1)
April 2014 (3)
March 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (5)
September 2013 (11)
August 2013 (15)
July 2013 (9)
June 2013 (5)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (2)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (2)
December 2012 (2)
November 2012 (1)
October 2012 (2)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (1)
June 2012 (1)
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
Coenonympha tullia california
Langia zenzeroides formosana
Orthosia hibisci quenquefasciata
Papilio machaon oregonius
Papilio polyxenes asterius
Samia cynthia advena
Papilio glaucus × Papilio rutulus
Papilio polyxenes asterius × Papilio zelicaon
Araneae (Class: Arachnida)