Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Critical time

Yesterday I had four males and four females, one newly emerged. Three of the males died, and the one female who had just emerged had a problem getting out of her pupal case. I tried to help by pulling off the pupal case, but I tore her abdomen and she started to leak hemolymph. She wasn't going to survive so I killed her quickly. Next time I'll know that I need to be much more gentle.

I still have had no couplings. I had heard that sometimes in enclosed spaces the males are so bombarded with female signal that they can't find her to mate. In these cases they either need to be put in a larger space to mate, which I can't do, or be hand paired. I found a youtube video about hand pairing moths, so I went and tried it with the remaining male and the three females. I could not get the male to couple with any of the females. I picked up one of the dead males and examined his reproductive parts. They looked different than the living male, so I looked at all of the other dead males, and they looked different than the living male too.

Right now I have some theories as to why I've yet to get a breeding pair to couple. First, the three dead males couldn't couple with the females because of the confined space. Then they died. Second, the living male has abnormal reproductive parts, or something, that is preventing him from coupling. It looked like he wanted to mate with the females (I tried them all with him) but he just could not get it done. I spent over an hour trying, so I was very patient but nothing happened.

So I'm kind of in trouble here with my moths. I just need one male and I'm in business. I have four cocoons left that have not emerged. If I get a male I'll try hand pairing again. I hope that one of the females lives long enough to get fertilized. If not I will have to start all over again with trying to import cocoons.

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