It was really good to get my caterpillars through to pupation, but I wasn’t sure how long it was going to be before the moths emerged. It turned out that they went into diapause. That wasn’t such a bad thing because I wanted to go away for a little while over the summer and whilst its not that hard to find someone to look after a cat or dog when you go on holiday, finding someone to look after your caterpillars is a little challenging!
As the summer wore on, the cocoons remained inactive. I started misting them every day to increase the humidity, but still nothing. In the end I had to put them in a plastic box with a shallow layer of water for a couple of days - this was enough to fool them into thinking the monsoons had arrived, and soon after the pupae started to form up and I was really happy to see this.
Over the course of a few days, all the moths emerged and without much encouragement, they paired and laid eggs.
I have no shortage of caterpillars now. They are busy chomping their way through the oak leaves, which are rapidly losing their colour as autumn hits. I am hoping to keep them going on the (just about) green oak leaves for as long as I can, but then they will have to start eating evergreen oak. They don’t usually grow as big when fed on Holm Oak, but when you compare the tough, dry leaves with the lush new growth of the deciduous oak, its perhaps not a big surprise if its not as nutritious. I will be very happy if I get these through to pupation and they go into diapause until the oak trees are back in leaf again.