Friday, June 27, 2008

New additions on the way

My worms are getting quite big now, but nobody is looking like they want to spin yet. I was starting to think that this project was never going to get off the ground, since I only had three worms (one is not looking that great at the moment), all of them from the same female. However, I was lucky enough to find seven A. pernyi cocoons on eBay, and I won the auction. I consulted with USDA and found that my permit would allow me to import another ten cocoons. Yay!

The seller of the cocoons said that he collected the parental generation in the wild, so the genetic diversity should be great (the USDA entomologist confirmed that my problems were likely due to excessive inbreeding). He also said that he might be able to sell me ten cocoons, and that he expects the cocoons to go into diapause. I found this odd because this moth should have two generations a year. When I spoke to the UDSA entomologist he agreed, and suggested that when I get the cocoons I should keep them at 55 degrees for two weeks. This will induce diapause for certain, and then I can break the diapause by bringing them back out into the 80 degree insectary.

I now also have concerns that the cocoons from brood #1 were not handled properly. The USDA entomologist also said that refrigerator temperatures (usually around 40 degrees F) are too cold for this species, because they are subtropical. The seller of the first cocoons told me that he had them in the fridge prior to shipping them to me, and told me that I could put them back in the fridge until I needed them. Which I did. Well, that could be part of the problem right there.

I'm trying to decide if I want to try and breed the worms that I have now, or if I just want to go with the new ones. I feel like I don't want to waste the old ones, but with all the problems that I've had with brood #1 I might just want to start fresh and go with the new ones. Although my issues might have been from the temperature issue and not inbreeding. I'll never know for sure.

Either way, this project just might be in business again.

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