Saturday, May 19, 2012

Female Hercules

A little while ago we raised a Hercules Moth caterpillar until it pupated. We suspended the cocoon in the kitchen (as you would), and a couple of day ago we awoke to find a giant female moth hanging quietly from it. We allowed her to hang undisturbed for 24 hours, and then took her out to the species' host plant Omalanthus populifolius within the backyard. We were hoping that she might attract a male, but she immediately began to lay eggs. We assume these initial eggs will be infertile (unless a stealthy male managed to sneak into the kitchen). By the following morning she had left the tree.

The face of the female Hercules Moth. The antennae are very impressive, yet those of the male are larger still.

She will only have a life-span of less than two weeks; she will not feed but instead survives only on the fat stores within her abdomen. Hopefully she can attract a male if there are any around at present, as there is no shortage of food plants locally for any resultant caterpillars.

The female Hercules Moth, Coscinocera hercules hanging in a Bleeding Heart tree in our yard

Laying eggs on the stem

The sticky red substance binds the eggs together and onto the plant.

The Hercules Moth, Coscinocera hercules is the largest moth in Australia with a wingspan of up to 270mm.

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