Sunday, July 8, 2018

Cycnia collaris Brood 2

Another batch of Cycnia collaris, formerly Cycnia inopinatus, is munching its way through the clump of Common Milkweed beside my front porch.  I’m assuming these larvae to be the offspring of the brood that showed up in May and went into pupation a few weeks ago.  That would make these larvae brood two .

More than a few of the brood one Cycnia larvae must have avoided playing host to Tachinid fly offspring and survived to adulthood.  I counted 69 larvae of this State Endangered moth species feeding on a single milkweed plant.  Additional larvae were present on many other milkweed plants close by.  As with the previous brood, it appears that the adults emerged from the leaf litter at the base of the plants and deposited a nice batch of eggs on plants readily accessible.

Larvae just recently moved onto the leaf on the left side of the photo.  They made the move after reducing the leaf on the right to a bare skeleton.

There’s not much tender young growth on the milkweed plants right now.  This doesn’t seem to slow down the Cycnia larvae at all.  The smallest larvae appear to have no trouble dining on the oldest and toughest of leaves.  The thick leaves allow the larvae to eat a lot without moving very far.  This sometimes results in a frass chain forming behind the larva.

Several severe storms have knocked down the milkweeds during the last few weeks.  Some plants have given up trying to right themselves.

The Cycnia females found the horizontal milkweeds to be just as desirable as those in a vertical position.  The larvae are quickly stripping the edible material from these leaves.  Having this action occurring right outside my front door has provided an ideal opportunity to learn something about the habits of this rare species.

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