CURRENT PUPAE - Chrysalides and cocoons

If you are a beginner and need information on rearing from small caterpillars, or hatching out pupae, please order the All Colour Paperback BUTTERFLIES. INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT SENT WITH EACH SPECIES, you need to acquire basic skills and this book is a simple way of doing so.

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Convolvulous Hawk convolvuli pupae Pupae

Convolvulous Hawkmoth convolvuli Herse convolvuli


The pupa has an exceptionally large proboscis case protruding, like a jug handle! Keep the pupae warm and they will produce adults this summer. Otherwise you can store the pupae cool for the winter and allow to hatch in May/June. 


The larvae feed on most Convolvulous species. The moth likes to feed from deep throated flowers (Tobacco Nicotiana is a favourite).


Females lay a large number of eggs.



Levant Hawkmoth Theretra alecto Breeding Stock of FIVE pupae

Levant Hawkmoth Theretra alecto 

This streamlined Hawkmoth occurs in Asia and Asia Minor, ranging westwards as far as Turkey and Greece.

Winter pupae are refrigerated until spring.

The appearance of the larvae has a lot in common with those of the Silver-striped Hawkmoth Hippotion celerio, and even the Elephant Hawk elpenor, in its middle stages. Foodplants are Vine Vitis and Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus and Boston Ivy. They also feed on Madder Rubia. Like Hippotion, there may be a number of other possible foodplants. Pupae are formed in leaf litter on or near the ground.

The larvae develop quickly in summer and produce continuous generations as long as summer persists.



Ampelophaga rubiginosa from Far Eastern Russia A breeding stock of 5 pupae

Ampelophaga rubiginosa from Far Eastern Russia


Summer pupae may be incubated to produce another generation, or kept cool to breed next season.


Never before offered by WWB. This Hawkmoth is seldom available. The moths apparently seldom come to light, nor to flowers. Its range extends from the Himalayas, Far East (Russia, China, Japan), southwards through, Myanmar and Thailand, and Indo China to Malaysia and Sumatra. Markings of the moth and depth of colour are quite variable.


The larvae are very attractive, differing with changes of instar; very streamlined and strongly reminiscent of the North American Darapsa myron. In the final instar some larvae have a patterned brown form. They feed on Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy Parthenocissus and Vine Vitis. There are reports of larvae accepting Hydrangea paniculata, Salix and Malus. It seems that there is a need to confirm these and maybe finding other food plants. Try Osier Salix viminalis, which has been so successful for many species, but have creeper or vine available in case the experimental plants are rejected.


The pupae have the curious habit of wriggling violently when sprayed, even appearing to hop around!


The number of generations in a year depends on the latitude and climate. In captivity and summer conditions, a second brood is quite probable. 


This species is highly recommended for the connoisseur breeder, and a great photographic opportunity.


Cinnabar Moth Hipocrita jacobaeae pupae
Availability: Autumn 2018

Cinnabar Moth Hipocrita jacobaeae pupae


Once an extremely common British Moth, less common over most of Europe, but over the last 10 years there has been a marked decline in numbers. The summer of 2016 brought a reversal of this decline and we have a fine stock of pupae available, as a result of breeding.

The larvae feed on Groundsel and Ragwort Senecio. The larvae are ringed in bright orange and black, nature's warning colours, and they absorb chemicals from the foodplant that adversely affect predators who ignore the warning. Ragwort is a mis-understood plant that provides an abundance of nectar to bees, butterflies and other insects. There is evidence that Ragwort plants that are pulled up and left to dry, can be detrimental to cattle and horses if they eat the dried plants. Animals can be seen grazing safely in fields containing growing green plants. There is nothing to be gained from pulling up Ragwort plants, because they are biennials that flower and die in the same year. So a patch of Ragwort can provide valuable nectar to thousands of wild insects, and be host to Cinnabar larvae and, job completed, it dies at the end of summer. 

The Cinnabar moth flies by day, more than by night, and is protected from predators, by the very striking colours of charcoal and scarlet, and bitter-tasting chemicals derived from the larval foodplant, enabling the moth to display its bright colours, yet not be attacked by predators. 

Cinnabar larvae can be raised in sleeves on growing Ragwort. We find the sleeves fitted with a zip are particularly successful. When the larvae are large, if you put in the sleeve several handfuls of springy wood shavings or dried leaf litter, they will form thin silken cocoons in which to pupate.

Could you help to spread this colourful day-flying moth again in your area?

Store pupae cool for the winter, even in a fridge, loose in a plastic box, without any padding.  In May lay them out in an emerging cage and wait for the moths to emerge.


Kentish Glory E versicolora  pupae
Availability: Autumn 2018

Kentish Glory  Endromis versicolora 


Store pupae refrigerated until February/March when the adults emerge and breed. Provide Birch twigs for females to lay their clusters of yellow eggs. In normal cold conditions, the eggs don't hatch before the foodplant buds open.  


This species is now found only in Scotland, and parts of Central Europe. These are European stock. Emerging as early as February. The first eggs and larvae are ready in March.  Clusters of bright yellow eggs are laid on bare Birch twigs.  Just go out and cut some twigs and arrange them in the cage. The eggs gradually change to a deep purple colour which matches the colour of the twigs. In captivity, the eggs can hatch before the Birch buds are open, so keep some twigs warm inside, standing in water, to get them to sprout.

If you can sleeve the larvae on a growing plant, potted or in the ground, rearing is very easy. The larvae, black at first,  cluster on the twigs. Later they are green and spread out a little, clinging on to the twigs, they look just like Birch catkins. Absolute masters of camouflage. In May the larvae pupate in leaf litter and settle down until the new season starts again in February. This is a very easy species: just make sure you have enough growing foodplant (it can be in pots). The male and female moths share the same patterning, but the female is much larger and the male has particularly rich chestnut markings. Pairing is easy. Just leave the moths together and Nature takes care of things.

Note Kentish Glory larvae can also be fed on Hazel, Alder, Hornbeam, and Lime. It is probable that other alternative tree species may be used as foodplant.

Our thanks to Jens Stolt who has kindly allowed us to use his beautiful illustration of the life history of this rare species.


Small Eggar Moth Eriogaster lanestris 6 cocoons

Small Eggar Moth Eriogaster lanestris 6 cocoons

Now only a few left.

The moths emerge in March/April. Because of modern practice of hedge management, this once common species is nowadays a rare find. Tight clipping of hedges destroys the habitat and undoubtedly the eggs and larvae.

Egg clusters are laid in batches, covered with black fluff from the tip of the female's abdomen, on branches of the foodplant Blackthorn Prunus spinosa or Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna. The larvae cluster, and even large larvae live within, and on the outsite of a prominent white tent of silk, very often at the end of a branch, with no attempt at concealment. It is likely that the larvae in captivity could be reared on Apple and Plum, though we have not tried these.

Don't be tempted to handle the larvae. They have short, decorative hairs, which easily come away and penetrate the skin, like short cactus prickles, and this gives rise to intense irritation. No doubt this is why the larvae can afford to display themselves in the wild so openly. No predator will try to eat them once they learn, and the larvae are patterned in warning colours to advertise the danger.

To pupate, the larvae descend to form a tight cocoon with a smooth shell-like a nut, in concealed leaf litter or moss, where they spend the winter. In early spring, the moths are fully formed within the pupal shell, ready to emerge the moment they sense that conditions are right. If you take the nut-like cocoons from the cold and put them into room temperature, the moths will suddenly break open the ends of the cocoons and there will be a whole lot of moths in a very short time!

You might help to spread the species locally if you can find thorn hedges that are not regularly trimmed. Cocoons are immediately available. Keep them in the fridge until April. You will enjoy observing this species, in all its interesting stages, and maybe could introduce it to your area.


Tau Emperor Aglia tau Breeding Stock of 5 Pupae
Availability: Autumn 2018

Tau Emperor Aglia tau


A Breeding Stock of 5 pupae to emerge March/April.


This European Silkmoth (not found in Britain) appears before our Emperor Moth and is in the same family of Silkmoths (Saturniidae).  Very easy to breed: lay the pupae out in February for March emergence. The moths fly and pair by day, and particularly appreciate sunshine.  Eggs are laid on the cage sides. 


The young larvae are adorned with antlers, as impressive as the American Hicory Horned Devils! Foodplants include Lime, Oak, Birch, Hawthorn, and other trees and shrubs. Pupation is in leaf litter. Single brooded.


Highly recommended.



Emperor Moth pavonia  breeding stock of 5 cocoons

Emperor Moth Saturnia pavonia


Supplies of cocoons will soon have sold out!


Britain’s only Silkmoth. The male and female have similar markings, but the female is larger, and the male is more brightly coloured.


Emergence is in March/April.  Pairing is easy – if you have a female, she will often attract males from miles away. The Emperor Moth occurs in many rural areas but is particularly found on heaths, where they breed on Heathers. The larvae feed on a variety of plants, including Bramble, Raspberry, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Apple, Plum, Blackthorn, Oak, Hornbeam, Birch, Heathers and Heaths, Blueberry, Meadowsweet, Wild Rose, Sea Buckthorn, Purple Loosestrife, Willows especially Osier Salix viminalis, Pussy Willow (Sallow).


The caterpillars cluster in the early instars, eventually spreading out and becoming brightly coloured, as beautiful as such exotics as the Moon Moths. The cocoon is spun in the foodplant. An interesting construction with a neck and open end, through which the adult emerges. 


This is one of the fun species to rear.  Demand for this species is high. Please order early.








Giant Peacock Moth pyri Cocoons  SPECIAL PRICES

Giant Peacock Moth Saturnia pyri



Magnificent - Europe’s largest moth. Flies in May, pairs easily and lays prodigiously. Exotic looking larvae.

Rear the larvae in warm, dry conditions. They are very easy to rear in the first instars and extra care is needed to bring them through the final instars. They repay proper care, growing fast and changing colour.


The large larva is as handsome as the tropical Saturniidae and has much in common with Moon Moth larvae, but with sapphire blue tubercles. They do well on Blackthorn and Plum and will often feed on other fruit trees and HawthornWillows, Alder and Birch.






Saturnia pavoniella Breeding Cocoons

Saturnia pavoniella Breeding stock of 5 cocoons


Slightly larger than our Emperor. A joy to breed: with amazingly varied larvae, quite distinct from Emperor larvae.


Although the moth is similar to our Emperor Moth pavonia, pavoniella male has a paler band on the hindwing inner margin. There are other differences in appearance and the intensity of pattern, particularly in the male.


Large larvae are quite distinct from those of pavonia, and very diverse in their colouring (see pictures). Foodplants are the same as for pavonia and include Apple, Plum, Blackthorn, Bramble, Hawthorn, Heather, Willow, Birch, and many others. Pavoniella females pair several times (pavonia only once). The two species hybridise easily but the progeny of hybrids of pavonia with pavoniella are infertile, which indicates that pavoniella is a true species. Pavoniella is found in central Europe, extending south to Greece and for some distance into Turkey and well into Asia Minor.


Pairing is very easy in sunshine. Rearing the larvae is most rewarding and interesting. Do give this species a try!

Philippine Atlas Moth Attacus atlas cocoons
Availability: Spring 2018

Giant Atlas Moth Attacus atlas, from the Philippines


Current stocks have sold, but more expected in the spring.


Philippine atlas are not as giant as some other races, but they are still enormous, and have interestingly different markings.  Pairing is achieved in a cage that is ample for the size of the moths but not so large that they can become too separated. Larvae feed on Privet and are easily reared in conditions that are warm and moist. Atlas larvae will also feed on Tree of Heaven Ailanthus, Osier Willow Salix viminalis, Citrus and undoubtedly a number of other substitute plants outside their normal habitat.


To get moths to emerge, raise the temperature to 15 degrees C, and gradually up to 30 degrees C or more, and very humid. They need very warm and humid tropical conditions. At higher temperatures, soak the cocoons at least once or twice daily. The cocoons must drain and not be left lying in water.




Giant Atlas Moth Attacus atlas cocoons
Availability: Spring 2018

Giant Atlas Moth Attacus atlas


The largest moth in the world.  Winter cocoons are dormant. You can choose whether to incubate them or keep them cold until the spring. To get them to emerge, raise the temperature to 15 degrees C, and gradually up to 30 degrees C or more, and very humid. They need very warm and humid tropical conditions. When hot, soak the cocoons at least once or twice daily. 

It is probably better to keep them cool (8 -12 degrees C) and dormant until mid-April, or even May, then raise the temperature and humidity as described above.  They will respond better to summer conditions.

Pairing is achieved in a cage that is ample for the size of the moths but not so large that they can become too separated.


Larvae feed on Privet Ligustrum and are easily reared in warm and moist conditions.  Atlas larvae will also feed on Tree of Heaven Ailanthus, Osier Willow Salix viminalis, Citrus and undoubtedly a number of other substitute plants outside their normal habitat.