Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area
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Electra Silk Moth [Hemileuca electra] Rearing Images

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This female spent most of the day ovipositing on 9-21-2005. She oviposted about 80 eggs, in clusters of 6 to 16, with the larger masses coming first. Eggs are laid in cycles - about 15-20 minutes of egg-laying is followed by an similar period of activity, part crawling and part attempted flight. These cycles continue through the day until she is exhausted and out of eggs. The images below show various phases of the cycle...

This video shows how she searches the host plant twig for a suitable place to oviposit...

These two videos show fresh 1st instar larvae "herding" behavior in time lapse...

These shots are of a mature 5th instar larvae, found in the Granite Mountains on Buckwheat. These are some of the largest ones I found. One individual was crawling on bare rock, apparently heading off to some dark crevice to pupate.

Once back in the lab, I took some more pictures of this very colorful mature 5th instar larvae.

On 4-9-2005, one of the lathargic larvae broke open and a number of parasitic larvae crawled out, killing the electra larva. They spun their own cocoons shortly thereafter. Not long after that, I introduced them to a bleach/water mixture to make sure they could not develope to infect further larvae.

Two of the 10 collected larvae were lost to parasites. The remaining 8 looked pretty good.... (4-9-2005)

The same day (4-9-2005) one larva which had been looking shorter and more "grub-like" than the others, pupated to my surprise. I had thought for sure that it too was parasited.

On 4-11-2005, I managed to spot one larva in the process of pupation. It was interesting to note the light color of the freshly pupated individual versus the darker color of one which was a day old.

As I observed the larvae approach maturity, they stopped eating and began wandering in search of a place to pupate. Wandering lasted 1 to 4 days. A preferable location would be loose debris in a dark, sheltered place (normally at the base of a plant or under a rock) but if left in a barren plastic container they will eventually stop wandering and build a very light cocoon.

The right photo shows one such larva with it's "cocoon". Oddly the cocoon is under the larva and does not cover it at all (others built cocoons which did). This is probably due to lack of a suitable location to burrow under debris to use for building material. Note the shape of the larvae. It has shrunk and looks more like a "grubworm" than a caterpillar. (4-11-2005)

By 4-14-2005, the group was nearing completion of its larval phase. The left two images show larvae in a "grubworn" phase with light cocoons, awaiting pupation.

The 3rd image shows the container used to raise them. It's made from a recycled plastic food container with a plastic wrap-covered window cut out of the front, and a nylon stocking-covered window on the top for ventilation. It's very important to prevent condensation. A second ventilation window on the side would of have improved ventilation even more by allowing air to flow through the enclosure.

The rightmost image shows the larvae "grubbing" in the plastic container. Some have already pupated at this point.

This female eclosed 9-26-2005 and I was fortunate enough to be onhand. The sequence below visually details the process. Caution - some of these images are very large!

This video shows 3 electra silkmoths (these are actually electra clio) expanding their wings in time lapse...

On 9-17-2005, this male eclosed some time during the early morning (prior to 7:30am) and was found in the emerging cage with wings already expanded.

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