Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum


Title: Another Monster!
Post by: BlueBee on August 09, 2011, 07:13:13 pm
I was coming back from shooting photos of my foam bee nucs when I noticed this monster on my Birch Tree (Betula Nigra Fox Valley).  Stopped me cold in my tracks!  I knew I had put some small Imperial Moth caterpillars on that tree a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t expect to see anything this big already.  It's like a Buick in the bug world. Check out the hairs on that baby.


There’s an entomologist in metro Detroit that raises various silk moths.  I bought a few small baby caterpillars from him a couple weeks back at a plant nursery to try.  I have raised silk moths in the past, but not the earth pupators.  Now I gotta figure out how to get this behemoth to pupate where I can get him.

All these dang insects are keeping me busy….. 
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: yockey5 on August 09, 2011, 08:36:12 pm
More pics!!!!!
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: AllenF on August 09, 2011, 10:20:09 pm
You have an eye for weird bugs.  Or just a lot of them are headed you way?
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: BlueBee on August 11, 2011, 10:15:09 pm
OK, here’s a better shot of this monster.  It’s a 5th instar caterpillar of an Imperial Moth. 


I had picked this thing off my smallish, somewhat rare, birch bush (Betula Nigra Fox Valley) a couple of days ago and tried to rear it inside a trash can feeding it my more abundant White Birch instead (Betula papyrifera).  It wasn’t eating the B. papyrifera as vigorously as the B. Nigra, so I decided to put it back on my tree outside today.  The shot above was taken as I moved it back to the B Nigra.

It’s going to be harder to trap a earth pupator when it’s living on a tree outside.  If you have any ideas how to accomplish that, please post them!
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: MrILoveTheAnts on August 12, 2011, 02:35:59 am
Hmmm well I find Polyphemus moth cocoons in leaf litter that's closest to the trunk of the host tree. Assuming these don't just drop off some branch you might be able to rig something for the little guy. Maybe you could place a skirt of weed fabric or even chicken wire around the trunk. And put a layer of fresh wood chips or dirt, (something finer than mulch,) so burrowing would be easier to notice.

Going back to the bucket system and changing the food plant might be easiest though.
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: yockey5 on August 12, 2011, 12:44:31 pm
Thanks for the new pic.
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: BlueBee on August 12, 2011, 10:33:41 pm
Thanks for the suggestion Mr Ants.  I was kind of thinking along the same lines.  

I decided to give the skirt idea a try today.  It took about 2 hours of time to build the monstrosity, but now it’s done and installed.  I happened to have some old #8 hardware cloth from previous bee experiments and scrap wood to make the skirt. The screen bottom will let any rain through but not any caterpillars.  

I filled the skirt assembly up with sawdust.  I’m guessing that once the earth pupators get their feet all covered with fine sawdust, they’re not going to be able to easily climb up and over the walls of the skirt very easily.  The skirt is about 7” tall.

After building the skirt thing, I think you’re right; going back to the bucket system may have been wiser!  Live and learn.  I do a lot of learning the hard way unfortunately…...
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: BlueBee on August 18, 2011, 01:50:36 pm
Interestingly I have a large green version of the Imperial Moth and a brown version on my birch tree.  They are both about 4.5” long and still eating.  They’re bigger than tomato worms.  They really seem to like my birch tree (Betula Nigra Fox Valley).  This form of birch is really more like a bush and it can be covered in tulle to protect the caterpillars from the wasps and birds.

Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: BlueBee on September 07, 2011, 04:28:56 pm


I was amazed to find 3 large Imperial moth caterpillars got fooled by my earth pupator trap.  These pupae are kind of interesting, they have little spines on their surface.  When you hold them in your hand, they almost feel like sandpaper.  They’re kind of spiky.  On some moths you can tell their sex by the size of their antenna and/or the 4th segment down from their wings.  From what I’ve read, I think I have my photo marked properly.  I got a 50:50 chance of being right…..or wrong :)

I trapped these imperial moths caterpillars in a trap I set under the tree they were on.  Here’s a photo of a trap under a little walnut tree. 


The traps worked surprisingly well.  This one is just a plant pot that was sliced down a side, slipped around the walnut tree and about 1/3 filled with sawdust.  It turns out that most of the caterpillars’ have legs that are designed to grip tree stems, but not plastic container walls.  So they end up crawling down the tree, into the plastic container and since they can’t climb the container walls they give up and decide to pupate inside the container.  I then pull the bucket and collect the pupae.   
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: MrILoveTheAnts on September 07, 2011, 04:49:19 pm
I'm glad to see this worked out so well.
Title: Re: Another Monster!
Post by: yockey5 on September 07, 2011, 07:14:31 pm
Pretty cool lil trap!