Monday, June 15, 2009

Silk Moth Mouth?

luna moth adult
Silk moths emerge as adults without mouths. Imagine - they emerge, spread and dry their wings, mate, females lay eggs, and they die. They starve to death. The Luna Moth (above) is the beauty that is used in Lunesta commercials.

io moth adult
The caterpillar of the IO moth will sting - badly! But the adult is a beauty. Named for it's 'eyes' on its hingwings, it does not have a mouth when it becomes an adult.

cecropia moth adult
Cecropia moth caterpillars start black, turn yellow, then turn green. Growing to 3" long, they make a cocoon, pupate into a pupa, and emerge as a huge beautiful moth, wihtout a mouth and cannot eat.

Poyphemus moth adult
The Polyphemus moth is a huge brown moth. The spots on its wings are clear as glass. Again, the adult moth does not have a mouth.

Raising these moths are fun. The caterpillars do eat a ton of food - be prepared!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dogbane vs Milkweed

Dogbane and Milkweed

Can you tell which plant is dogbane and which is milkweed? Dogbane doesn't grow in Florida but in areas where it does grow, many people use it to 'feed' their Monarch caterpillars, thinking that it IS milkweed. The result is starved caterpillars. Monarch caterpillars will not eat dogbane.

The plant on the left is dogbane and the plant on the right is common milkweed. Both have white sap.

Milkweed has hollow stems and dogbane has solid stems (thank you Jodi and Linda for these tips). Common milkweed has green stems while dogbane has red stems.

Dogbane flowers and leaves

The flowers resemble milkweed in this species of dogbane but it is not the exact same flowers. Some species of dogbane grows flowers that closely resemble milkweed flowers.

If you're not sure, send a photo to someone who knows the difference. Remember, feeding dogbane to Monarch caterpillars (or rather, attempting to feed it to Monarch caterpillars) is a sure way to starve them to death!

At Shady Oak Butterfly Farm we use tropical milkweed exclusively. We're jealous! We'd love to have the larger leaves of common milkweed but it won't grow with our warmers winters - it needs cold winters.