Santa Clarita and Northern Los Angeles County Area
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Velda Pine Moth [Coloradia velda] Rearing Images

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This female was captured at a 175w mercury vapor light on 6-23-2006 in the San Bernardino mountains. She was immediately placed into a small bug cage (a very handy dollar-store item!) with a sprig of Jeffrey Pine and left there overnight. In the morning no ova were readily apparent, and I was concerned that she may have already been emptied-out. The Coloradia Genus is known for having exceptionally large but few ova.

However, after moving her to a different position in the cage I spotted 10 ova that she had been obscuring with her wings in the tight space. The following night she laid 4 more, and lived another 2 days still, but no more ova were laid. Pics taken 6-24-2006



About 18 days later, on 7-9-2006, the ova looked to be about ready to hatch (left image), and on 7-10-2006, they did! The rest of these images show the surprisingly large larvae chewing their way out of the eggshells and starting to crawl about.





A couple of days later on 7-12-2006, the 14 1st instars were happily gang-feeding together on the large thick Pinyon Pine needles. These particular Pinyon sprigs were collected 2 prior to the larvae hatching, and kept in the refidgerator. Pine keeps surprisingly well in a Ziploc bag at about 50F. Even 2 weeks later (4 weeks from cutting)the host was still soft, moist, and edible. The cut end of the sprig is kept in a small platic bag with a water-soaked paper towel to help keep it hydrated.







On 7-19-2006 these freshly-molted 2nd instars were growing rapidly...



2 days later, on 7-21-2006 these 2nd instars are still eating and growing...



The larvae molted into 3rd instar on 7-25-2006. Here they are shown on 7-31-2006. Note how well they match the pine stalk color and texture.



On 8-2-2006, they began molting into 4th instar. Note the bright yellow coloration of the freshly molted 4th instar. In about 1-2 hours, the bright color fades to the typical darker color.



This images of nearly mature 4th instars were taken on 8-9-2006...







On 8-14-2006, the larvae had grown quite a bit and had already molted into 5th instar (Top row). 4 days later (bottom row), they were fully mature and mostly idle in preparation to purge and pupate.




Prior to pupation, many larvae will "purge" their gut of all remaining food in one large messy stool, which makes it easy to tell when they ready. These C. velda larvae only left a very small, mostly dry purge which was hard to detect in the regular frass at the bottom of the cage. I found it easier to identify the ready-to-pupate larvae by the change in their behavior. Not long after purging, they become very active, crawling rapidly and never settling or feeding like the not-yet mature ones.

I transferred the rapidly wandering larvae to a 5qt ice cream bucket with about 1" of thoroughly sun-dried potting mix on the bottom, which was covered with about 3" of finely-shredded newspaper. This setup attempts to simulate leaf litter on top of soft earth, for them to burrow into and pupate.

After crawling for an hour or two, they quickly dug-in and spun a loose cocoon in the potting soil. These pictures were taken 9-2-2006.




On 9-4-2006, I found a couple of them had pupated, about 9-10 days after purging/wandering...



A few days later on 9-6-2006, I noticed a few freshly-pupated individuals. It was interesting to note the color change as the pupa hardens. Freshly pupated individuals are bright green. The color slowly fades until the final shape and hardness is reached, about 40 hours later.



I finally spotted one pre-pupa just about to perform its final molt on 9-7-2006. It made slow twisting and compressing movements to push the loose and baggy skin towards its tail. As the skin was pushed down, it stretched and split behind the head, exposing the fresh pupa. This continued until the skin was completely shed. The whole process took about an hour. Afterwards, the pupa squirmed and contorted as it molded itself into its final shape - interesting and somewhat macabre to see!











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