Saturday, April 11, 2009

Damage control

I consulted with the silkworm rearers mailing list regarding my problem with the moldy cocoon. I got a lot of very good information and suggestions, and so have taken the following actions -

It's likely that 52 degrees F is too warm for A. pernyi to remain in diapause, so my pupae might develop and attempt to emerge from the cocoons. It's too late to put them at a colder temperature because if they've developed this might kill them. My best bet is to get them warmed up again and take them out of diapause, so I have all the cocoons in a warm room and separated by colony.

It's most likely that the moldy cocoon resulted from the dead moth inside, so for some reason the moth developed and then died. It's good to know what caused what - as in the death casued the mold and not the other way around.

Since there are no leaves on any trees, I'm attempting to force some oak branches to develop leaves sooner than they would normally. To do this I've cut some branches with buds on them and put them in the warm room in the bucket of water. I did this a few years ago and was able to get a few tiny leaves, which would be enough for me if I get a moth pairing and eggs before the trees outside fully leaf out for the spring.

If I can't force any leaves from my cut oak branches, some good folks from the list who live in southern states have offered to ship me fresh oak leaves. They say they have plenty of leaves down there now. I think this is fantastic, and really very nice of them. I hope I don't have to ask them to do it for me, but if I get desperate I might have to get some oak leaves Fed-Ex'ed to me.

Yeah, we bug people are kinda weird like that.

Anyway, I have five cocoons from colony B and six from colony C. There was one cocoon from colony C that had a dark end, so I snipped it off to see what it looked like inside. I saw what appeared to be a perfectly normal pupa butt. I poked at it a little but could not tell if it was moving or not. I decided to leave it alone and see what happens.

Worse case scenario - I won't have any moths or any pairings. Then it's back to trying to find a supplier.

Next time I'll know - 52 degrees is too warm for diapause!

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