Sunday, 2 June 2019

Rearing an Eyed Hawk-moth family

Every year I declare that I won't rear anymore larvae as it takes a lot of time and through the peak Moth-ing season, the trapping (home and away), ID'ing, recording and dissecting could almost be a full-time job, albeit an unpaid one. That declaration soon gets amended shortly afterwards to "I'm not going to rear AS much this year" and it was this time last year that I was having that very same conversation with myself.
Almost to the day now, a female Eyed Hawkmoth I'd trapped in the garden had laid eggs overnight, in the pot she was in and it was this that tempted me back into keeping the nursery open, to raise yet another family!
In the early stages, providing fresh foodplant for the little ones is pretty easy and maybe a once/twice weekly job to replace with new. As soon as they get growing however, it's a different ballgame and before you know it, you're out chopping branches off trees as a daily ritual to feed the hungry mouths and their unrelenting appetite. I released some of the young to fend for themselves and to, quite frankly, ease some of the work from me. The other 20 or so, I kept to rear through myself. That number of larvae meant that in the later stages, when they were chunky little blighters, I was needing to replenish food twice a day to keep up!
Eating all that food means lots of frass - caterpillar poop, and minus the risk of parasitic wasps, birds and other predators that they were being sheltered from in the nursery, the main thing they're at risk of is infection, which can spread in no time and wipe out the entire lot. So cleaning out the frass is also a daily chore, often twice a day in those later stages. As you can tell, it can be rather time consuming when you have all sorts of species you've chosen to rear!

So anyhow, I lost a few along the way. Some don't pupate properly and I don't honestly know the reasons behind them all. Natural circumstances, I guess?

As a doting 'father' I'm allowed to bore you with family photo albums, so here you go:

early days

going out alone for the first time





too big for hand-me-downs stage now


the getting-to-fat-to-move time of life

time to slow down a peg and get this metamorphosis lark done

made it safely to adulthood!

It is a rewarding thing to do and also educational, but this year - I'm not going to rear as much...


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