Though growing up butterflies were my thing, once I was exposed to the giant silk moths I fell in love. Living in Rhode Island, we have Hyalophora cecropia, Actias luna, Antheraea polyphemus, Callosamia promethea and Automeris io. Though these species are spectacular it wasn’t until I became exposed to the tropical species where the wow factor really started.
I have been a butterfly gardener for many years. Each year I try to add to existing gardens or take out gardens that don’t seem to be performing as well as I would like (when I say perform, I mean attracting butterflies). This year I wanted to do something new with an existing garden that over the past few years had just become overgrown, not only with weeds but with wildflowers and trees as well. This 13 foot by 13 foot garden had become unmanageable and with the exception of a butterfly bush and a wafer ash tree, nothing in it was attracting butterflies (the wafer ash was attracting giant swallowtails pretty regularly).
Raising Lepidoptera has been a hobby that I have enjoyed ever since I was a kid. Though raising butterflies has always been fun, it is raising the giant silkmoths, family Saturniidae, that has been my favorite aspect of rearing. Thankfully I live in an area that includes a great representation of these amazing moths, even though their wild populations do seem to be dwindling with each passing year. What I present to you is a list of the most commonly used caterpillar foodplants for these moths representing nine species. This list is in no way meant to be complete and only through experimentation can new plants be added to this ever-growing list.
So, if you have never raised Saturniid larvae before, or even if you are a seasoned veteran, this list will hopefully be helpful in guaranteeing your success! Good luck and have fun!
THE LUNA MOTH – Actias luna
Aspen (Populus), Bayberry (Myrica), Beech (Fagus), Birch (Betula), Butternut (Juglans), Chestnut (Castanaea), Hickory (Carya), Hops (Humulus), Hornbeam (Carpinus), Maple (Acer), Oak (Quercus), Pecan (Carya), Sweetgum (Liquidambar), Sycamore (Platanus), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron), Walnut (Juglans).
Though I am no longer an insect collector, I do from time to time put displays together, either for friends or to be used in my insect presentations at schools and libraries (for more information please click HERE). These are just a sampling of some of the things I have done. As additional displays are completed I will add to this blog. To get an idea of scale, I am using Presidential Display Cases that measure 24″ x 18″ x 2.5″.
INSECTS VS. ARACHNIDS
In 2013 I decided to totally revamp my insect presentations featuring all new displays to bring into the classroom. This was the first one that I did, featuring a side-by-side comparison of insects and arachnids. I am very happy with this display even though it is not jam-packed with specimens. It does feature a good assortment though of some of the largest species of both insects and arachnids, including one of the largest scorpion specimens I have ever seen!
Keeping invertebrates as pets is not for everyone. Most people, when thinking of tarantulas, scorpions or other invertebrates, react in disgust or fear. This is mostly due to the fact that these animals are greatly misunderstood. Thanks to horror movies and stupid shows like FEAR FACTOR alot of these invertebrates have been given a bad reputation as being dangerous, even deadly. Though many invertebrates that are kept as pets are venemous (no, they don’t remove the venom before the animal is sold) keep in mind that their venom is not designed to kill people. It is designed to help them subdue their prey. There are species of scorpions that have venom so strong that it can kill a person but that is not what it is there for. Most of these animals would rather run away and hide from a person than actually try to bite them. They are actually very timid, and at times nervous. Keep in mind also that people are not supposed to die from bee stings or ant bites, but they do. It is not because of the bee or ant, but because of the person’s allergic reaction to the sting or bite. The same can be held true for all invertebrates that can bite or sting. The first rule to follow when having pets like this is to show them respect.
Welcome to my website. My name is David Albaugh and I have had a lifelong interest in entomology. This started at the age of seven thanks to a kit for collecting butterflies and moths. This kit was put out by the now defunct Butterfly Company, the world’s leading supplier of dried insects at the time from Far Rockaway, NY. It was this very company, and it’s owner Irene Glanz, that fueled my desire to know everything I could about the world of insects.