Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Biting off more than I can chew

My A. pernyi colonies are doing very well. Colony A has had their second molting, and colonies B and C are just about done with theirs. I've been feeding them twice a day and they have been eating tons of leaves. This morning I underestimated the amount of leaves that I'd need for Colony A, and when I came home this is what the rearing container looked like -

Colony B and C are a few days younger and some are still molting so they aren't eating quite as much. I'm starting to get a little concerned that I'm not going to be able to keep up with this many bugs!

I'm in the process of building three new, larger rearing containers with screens in the top and sides. Humidity is going to become a problem but I'm hoping that increased ventilation and good cleaning will help reduce my chances of disease. There are so many bugs and their space is going to get tight as they get bigger, so sickness could possibly give me a colony wipe. Sure, I have two other colonies, but I really don't want any of my worms to die off.

Actually, I now have four colonies. Yesterday while I was collecting oak leaves I saw that some of the leaves had what I thought was a wild caterpillar on them. Of course I had to take them home and put them in a rearing container. Here is what they look like.

They are really shiny and almost look slimy. Unlike my cutie silkworms I really don't want to touch these things. Their font legs look very long, spiky, and spider-like. I posted a pic of them on the Silkworm Yahoo group list and a member posted almost immediately that these are sawfly larvae. Yuck. So I won't be getting a nice moth or butterfly out of them. Needless to say, they are going in the freezer tonight.

As far as my A. pernyi colonies go, at this same temperature my last batch of bugs took seven weeks to start spinning. Right now I'm on week two. It's going to be an interesting next five weeks. I hope my supply of oak leaves doesn't dry up!



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