The Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis), though beautiful in its own right, is perhaps better known for its caterpillar, known as the Hickory Horned Devil. These caterpillars get huge, reaching a length of six inches by the time they are ready to pupate. It’s range is the eastern portion of the United States, east of the Great Plains. Unfortunately it has been some time since this spectacular species has been reported in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
In the past, when it comes to tarantulas, I have always said that the genus Brachypelma is my favorite. My second favorite is the genus Aphonopelma, which is made up of over 90 species, most of which are from the United States. They have a similar size to Brachypelmas but tend to be stockier in build and for the most part, have the same disposition and life expectancy. They are also very easy to care for.
For me, seeing butterflies in my yard, or out on a hike is a thrill, especially if there is a lot of them. Growing up, butterfly populations were much higher than they are today, which just adds to the thrill when you see something you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s nice to know that they’re still there.
There have always been field guides to butterflies and moths, my favorite types of insects. My biggest complaint with them though is that they are never complete; they are always missing some important aspect for each species. For the most part, these guides concentrate on the adult butterfly or moth, rarely showing the other three stages of development (egg, larva and pupa). I am guessing that the main reason for this is cost and eventual size of the book. To show all four stages of each species, and then perhaps images of both the male and female, along with text, would create a book that is cost prohibitive.
When it comes to tarantulas, the genus Brachypelma is by far my favorite. The first tarantula I got, in 1976, was Brachypelma harmori and its gentle disposition and long life instantly made it a favorite. As I added more tarantulas to my collection, I found that the Brachypelmas were the ones I enjoyed keeping the most.
I first became aware of the book “The Last Butterflies: A Scientist’s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature” thanks to a piece on NPR. Being a lover of Lepidoptera, I thought this would be an interesting book as it dealt with declining numbers in the butterfly world, a subject that has been on my mind a lot. I wasn’t sure what to expect as some of these books can be over-scientific, making it difficult to read. I am happy to report that this book is written so that everyone can enjoy it.
Citheronia splendens, also known as the splendid royal moth, is a Mexican species that is closely related to the Regal moth (Citheronia regalis) and was discovered living in parts of Arizona in the early 1970’s. There is not much known about this species but it is definitely fun to rear and the resulting moth is spectacular.
For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in butterflies. In fact, one of my fondest memories as a child during the 1970’s was raising monarch butterflies every summer with my mother’s help. She would drive me to places where milkweed was growing and would help me find the tiny eggs and caterpillars, which we would bring home, raise and then release the adults. We would raise hundreds each summer. What is truly sad is that today, finding eggs and caterpillars seem to be almost impossible as monarch populations are on the decline.
Times are definitely changing. At the time of this writing we are in the midst of a global pandemic, where everyone is asked to self isolate and keep six feet away from friends and family. These are trying times, emotionally and financially, so what is someone to do to help weather the storm? With it being spring, one thing you can do is help another global issue; the decline of pollinators.
Growing up I was not much of a fan of spiders. On the one hand I thought they were kind of cool looking. On the other, they could be so fast and could bite! I think as a child I just felt it was safer to collect butterflies and moths. As I got older though my appreciation for these eight-legged invertebrates grew and now, I am a huge fan of arachnids. Though their speed and ability to bite makes me hesitant to hold them, I have a huge respect for them, especially with how beneficial they are to the world around us.