Thursday, April 24, 2008

Starting the A. pernyi cocoons

My Chinese Emperor Oak tree has decent sized buds on it, so I took the A. pernyi cocoons out of the fridge last night and put them in my bug room. They are in the emergence chamber, ready to go.

I'm going to keep the room at around 78 degrees, and I got the idea from wild silkmoth guru Bill Oehlke's site to give them 16 hours of daylight. He states that a similar moth, A. polyphemus, will not go into diapause (winter hibernation) in the cocoon state if fourth instar caterpillars (the stage before spinning the cocoon) are exposed to 16 hours of light, but will go into diapause if they are exposed to 12 hours of light. This makes perfect sense, because the shortening days of fall would tell the larva that winter is coming so it would be a good time to shut down for the winter. However, if there's enough light the larva will be able to emerge without a cold snap and will be able to have more than one brood in the summer season. I'm hoping for at least two broods, but I'm getting such a late start because of the weather here in Ohio that I might not be able to squeeze in three.

I'll be checking the cocoons daily (probably more than once a day) for any activity. I'll need to get them out of the emergence chamber and into the breeding chamber as soon as they emerge so I can check for parasitoid wasps. My great emergence chamber should make this easy!

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