how release larvae? dispersal?

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Wed Jul 1 03:45:02 EDT 1998

lday at wrote:
> Hi all...
> I want to release my promethea moth larvae (~100).  I'm trying to get
> out of rearing so I can have a life again.  But I'm having trouble doing it.
> They are eating wild cherry.  I went to a large nature preserve nearby,
> (larvae are from local stock) and tried to put the larvae onto cherry trees
> there.  I wanted to put just a few on each tree, so they would be spread out,
> so some bird wouldn't find and eat them all.
> But there were big problems.  1) I couldn't pull the larvae off the leaf they
> were already on, to put them on the tree leaf, without damaging them. So I
> ended up tying little leaf/twig pieces onto the trees with thread, which is
> VERY time-consuming.  2) I couldn't find enough cherry trees with reachable
> branches.  I only covered a small proportion of the preserve, but the rest
> may not be any better.
> Is there a good way to put out these larvae?  Caring for them is a pain,
> but I don't have all day to walk around setting them out either.  I would
> just give them to people instead, but I really do want to put some back in
> the wild after all the moths I've taken out.
> Is it important how dispersed they are?  Does it matter if I put them all
> on the lower limbs?  Would it be easier to wait til they're cocoons and
> just tie the cocoons to random branches throughout the preserve?
> I could really use some information or help... it might save me a lot of
> time and worry.
> Thanks!
> Liz Day
> (and Tweeter-Boinger, parakeet)
> (and about 100 4th-instar promethea... they eat like hogs and they haven't
> even reached their "Sherman's march" stage yet  <8-()
> LDAY at
> Indianapolis, Indiana, central USA - 40 N latitude, zone 5.

We've had no success with releasing larvae at the zoo, where folks 
thought it would be a good idea to increase the population of Battus 
polydamus in the open butterfly house. The grackles watch you, and as 
soon as you have put them out, they're on them like Sherman on Atlanta. 
Cocoons would, I am sure, meet a similar fate. 
	My role in this fiasco was to hang around saying "I told you so" 
at suitable intervals. 
	When moving larvae from plant to plant in my garden, (rescuing 
plant, not bug) I just wedged the leaf into the axil of another leaf. 
This seemed to work all right, but they were smallish bugs. Also I can 
take their demise pretty philosophically. God will make more. 
	A blob of Tacky Glue (thick white glue) or an instant glue might 
stick the leaf to another leaf more quickly and effectively than your 
thread-tying. One would hope that the caterpillar would not blunder into 
it before it dried. If so, it wouldn't be wasted. Ants appreciate this 
sort of donation.  
I wonder whether the nature center would like to create a large display 
of these larvae, as they have an ample supply of food available. Or 
maybe you can foist them onto your local zoo. Is there a summer camp 
where the denizens would like a caterpillar apiece? Many people who are 
tired of their offspring find that summer camp is a good solution.
	What happened to Fred? 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida

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