At around the same time as I bought Death's-head Hawk-moth eggs, I also ordered
some ova of the Oleander Hawk-moth to rear through and photograph at each stage
The eggs hatched very quickly, so I unfortunately missed the chance to photograph
the ova stage and I then had difficulty getting the caterpillars to start feeding.
After taking advice, I settled for offering the larva a choice of food-plants
- periwinkle and 'disguised' privet (made by dipping the privet into an infusion
of periwinkle leaves and allowing it to dry). Apparently, after eating this
'disguised' food for a while, the caterpillars should start to eat normal privet.
In fact, the caterpillars refused the 'disguised' privet whilst in 1st and
2nd instars - so I had to feed them on periwinkle, then transfer them to 'disguised'
privet once moulted into 3rd instar. After a few days of feeding on the 'disguised'
leaves the caterpillars would then accept 'normal' privet, although they noticeably
preferred the tender shoots to larger leaves.
The caterpillars grew quickly to full size then suddenly changed colour immediately
before leaving the foodplant to pupate. This colour change only took a few hours
and was very striking. Once off the foodplant, the larva formed a loose cocoon
amongst leaf debris and pupated over the next 48 hours.
The pupal stage lasted around 20 days before the adult moths emerged.
Click on the thumbnail image (left)
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