We have been rearing Hemileuca peigleri for several years now. Our first ova
rings were collected in Calhoun County in December of 2013 - see picture below:
these err rings are laid by Females after mating. The female lands on the end of a branch of the Host plant (usually Quercus minima) and then she curls her abdomen around the branch to lay a series of eggs - one at a time in concentric circles. We have collected these eggs for study purposes and reared the resulting caterpillars. In 2014 we reared over 900 Hemileuca caterpillars at our home at the Spring Entomological Research Center.
We used 2 locally available oaks as food plants -- Water oak (Quercus nigra)and Post Oak (Quercus stellata). The caterpillars undfergo 6 successive molts prior to pupation. Each of these stages is called an instar and at the end of each instar the caterpillar attaches it self to the end of a branch and then when ready sheds it skin. The caterpillars in the first two instars are mostly black. See below:
By the time they reach their third instar the orange coloration around the dorso-lateral spines
are much more orange and noticeable. See below:
In the fourth through six instar the caterpillar grow noticeably in size reaching nearly three inches in length at maturity. They also become so much more beautiful.
This photo is courtesy of Dr. Richard S. Peigler.
These caterpillars are covered with stinging spines - caution when handling is required. The
spines can cause small red welts - similar to a fire ant bite. These defensive organs are clustered along the dorsal and lateral aspects of caterpillars.
During their lifetime as a caterpillar they simply eat and grow working to store energy as fat reserves to be used while they pupate. The pupation phase typically lasts from April to December. Newly pupated individuals are yellow green and they turn brown as their pupal skins harden.
After the adults emerge in December they are incapable of eating or drinking and they must survive on what fat stores remain from their pupation phase. Adults typically live between 3 and 5 days.
Full Life cycle:
Your help in funding this research will enable us to better understand the population in Calhoun County and assist Texas parks and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy in preserving this amazing animal.
Thank you again
Bob Nuelle, Jr.
The East Texas Natural History Collection is proud to be the first North American Host and partner with the International Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies. The Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies is a peer reviewed international Open Access Journal which is abstracted in various reputed databases. The Journal provides a platform with the aim of motivating students and personnel in all fields of Zoology.
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