Well, I was just replying to a question about angle shades moth pupae, but the question disappeared
In case it reappears, here's my answer.
If it does reappear, presumably this will look impressive in the stats about how long it takes for a question to be answered on NaturePlus!
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They don't usually produce much silk.
Moisture is critical however, as you suspect. But so is ventilation - else fungi can take hold. You were right to be concerned about the mildew. It can be difficult to get it right in captivity.
It is easy to presume from the fact that there are two generations of adults a year, that offspring from the first may emerge later the same year. But I don't know if that is true.
This angle shades entry on this page suggests that this species 'usually overwinters as a larva' and 'larvae may be found most months of the year' - http://www.ukleps.org/CommNamesAlphabetical.html ...Again, it leaves room for doubt about the answer to your question. (Thanks to Reg Fry, Shane Farrell and David Howden.)
Richard South's 'Moths of the British Isles', Vol.1, 1961 does not help in this respect.
I suggest you try asking Brian Stone - there's a link to his email under this photo of a pupa he reared from egg
Thanks for that info and the link. The question that disapeared was probably mine because I still dont understand that message `You have 15 minutes to mark this as a question ` when it doesn`t tell you how to do it and although its there when you start a new thread it seems that once you`ve posted it you can`t mark it even when you edit it .
(madness). It got me so mad I pulled it off , rephrased it and reposted later on. As you point out, airflow is probably the best way to prevent spores from settling so I will rig up a tiny fan or put it in a draught somewhere. I thought if I dampened the earth slightly and kept a strict eye on them it should be alright. There was no sign of silk except while the larvae were very young. When the larvae stopped eating and went slightly yellow they dug into the earth altogether in a space of about ten minutes like little automatons. It was an amazing sight. When they hatch and if all goes well they may do it en masse so I will try to video it. I dont suppose there is way of sexing the pupae? I shall try Brian Stone, Thanks again,
There are some oddities/frustrations about the way the forum works, true; sorry you had problems.
There are odd tips for sexing pupae of some species, eg the tiny black line re monarchs
http://www.monarchwatch.org/biology/sexing.htm; and Cabbage Moth Mamestra brassicae 'Sexing of the pupae was made according to well-known external sexual characters present on the ventral side of the last abdominal segments (Sannino et al., 1987)' (http://www1.inea.it/ist/pdf/sanninodefinitivo.pdf).
Sometimes, you can tell the sex from the antennae (feathered or not).
With angle shades, there's half an implication it can be done by looking at the cremaster (comments by the photos for angle shades here http://www.ukleps.org/CommNamesAlphabetical.html).
Very many thanks for the advice and links especially the last one whih had some excellent detail. As far as I can tell all the eight pupae that I have are males having looked at under a strong magnifier. However the extra four hairs on the females are very fine and perhaps have rubbed off. That said I don`t suppose you know whether , as in many species there is a predominance of males. Couldn`t find an answer to that online. One thought though, when I had all the caterpillars (around 30) I set free the smaller individuals and kept the larger so I may have inadvertently affected this.
As regards skewed frequency distribution of males/females, I honesty don't know.
"Scientists have known that growth rates do not differ between female and male caterpillars and thus cannot account for the observed size difference. Rather, the sexual dimorphism observed in the adult animals more likely has to do with differences in the time the two sexes spent as growing larvae."
(Stillwell and Davidowitz; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311141218.htm)
Reading on: you'll see that, in their experiment using a particular species of hawk moth, females delayed pupating, becoming larger in the process. Up to that point males and females had been similar in size.
...So, if the same behaviour applies to angle shades, the smaller ones you put out may not have caused a sexual bias in your remaining animals. And even if it had, it would have been more likely to increase the nuber of females remaining to pupate with you - not males.
I detect some curiosity and good thinking going on, Ray; keep it up!
Many thanks again Mike,
The article was really interesting and it great to have someone pointing me in the right direction.
As regard my pupae - I suppose I shall just have to wait and see - don`t want to handle them too much as they keep wriggling. I suppose that is some kind of defence mechanism. So as they say `watch this space` I shall know more when they hatch. I may even try to record the hatching in moving pics.
Recording the emergence would be excellent; best of luck with that.
I hope you don't have to wait too long. With moths, it is always tricky knowing when the moment will occur.
I suppose you know about the periodical cicadas?
While you are waiting(!), have a read of this
If that is new to you, I suspect you may be off following it up - out of curiosity.
The first of the moths hatched last night. And they are not p. meticulosa but e. lucipara which probably explains why the pupa were slightly different. I did have my suspicions because the pupae were also slightly smaller but never realized how similar the caterpillars were. It look as if this first is a female - long slender attennae no feathering.
Couldn`t get any photo of hatching but will post a photo when the camera has re-charged. Going to see if she`ll take a little nectar before releasing her.
Good, and interesting; thanks for the update.
Hope you get that photo.
As I know you'll be aware, it is always so nice to see a moth in pristine condition, having freshly emerged.
Just a small point re your 'E.': one should not abbreviate a genus unless it has already been mentioned unabbreviated in the same document.
For other readers,
Gargoyle is referring to small angle shades, Euplexia lucipara.
Suppose I suggested that was a cabbage moth, Mamestra brassicae ?...
The photos here show a good range of variation, and your specimen would not be out of place amongst them, methinks...
You know what the larvae looked like; compare that, too.
It gets complicated. But after looking at the photos online I think you may be correct. The one that I photographed is hiding in my room after escaping. I suspect I`ll see it again when dusk falls. I have some photos of the larvae but they are rather inconclusive but I`ll put one here anyway. There seems to be a lot of variation in these larvae and adults. Perhaps theres a clue in the feed plant which was Clematis. Also even if I don`t catch the one thats hiding there`s seven more waiting to hatch and they are fine and very darkened now so should hatch soon and I shall check for the curved spur on the tibia of the fore-leg which I`ve since found out is particular to Mamestra Brassicae. Apparently they are considered a pest. Ho hum.
The journey with many a turn is more interesting and memorable than the straight one.
(No - me, not Confucius!)
I look forward to your next installment, Gargoyle.
Another twist in the road.
Number 2 hatched successfully yesterday and 3 & 4 don`t look too happy. I knew some might not all make it but perhaps it was my fault. I moved them to somewhere where some condensation developed overnight and I realize now that the pupal case has to be fairly crisp and dry for them to hatch properly which makes me wonder why they pupate in soil. I watched number 2 hatch and it was all over in a flash about 15 minutes actually released he/she last night but made sure there was plenty of cover.
Regarding The Cabbage Moth I have found this online at:
where it says `can always be identified by the presence of a curved spur on the tibia of the fore-leg` If any do not survive then I shall look with my microscope.
4 more still to hatch.
No 5 successfully hatched - spur very visible on foreleg
Taken some good pictures which need editing more later.
These are several picures of the emergence of number 5. After this it settled down in the normal wings folded flat position. The whole process took about 45 minute. I like the last one as it gives a good chance to see the underside of the underwings. I think this must be the only time they hold their wings like this and it held them there for about 15 minutes For those who haven`t been following the story - this is The Cabbage Moth Mamestra brassicae
The story, like the moths' wings, is unfolding nicely!