Saturnia pavoniella is one of the most beautiful and popular species available during springtime. With its extraordinary and vibrant colors, Saturnia pavoniella immediately catches the attention of any enthusiast.
A wonderful classic Lepidoptera species that can’t be missing in your livestock!
Saturnia pavoniella, 100% European endemic moth species
S. pavoniella is an endemic Emperor Moth species of the Mediterranean Europe: Ligurian Emperor is distributed in South-Eastern Europe, from Italy up to the North-East of Turkey and the South of Ukraine.
Saturnia pavoniella is typical of wooded clearings, edges of open woods, bushy grassy environments, heaths and medium-populated areas (such as agricultural fields and gardens) and where its favorite host plants generally grow (bramble and blackthorn).
Description and biology of Saturnia pavoniella
Saturnia pavoniella is a univoltine moth species. Usually, the adults fly from the end of March to mid-April; males are diurnal and can be observed in flight during the warmer hours of the day, seeking for the females. Saturnia pavoniella females seem to have a more distinctly nocturnal behavior.
The eggs are usually laid in small groups on the leaves or on the twigs of the host-plants, they are spherical and with whitish olive green color. Eggs of Saturnia pavoniella usually take about 10 to 15 days to hatch, depending on the temperature. L1 larvae are black and L2 show orange spots under the tubercles. Colors accentuate witth growth, in the last stage, emperor moth caterpillars show greenish color with yellow tubercles in each segment. A pear-shaped cocoon is made up between the branches or the cork at the base of thei host plant. Saturnia pavoniella‘s cocoons are really hard and thick! That’s because they will pass through the summer and the following winter. The adult moth will hatch the upcoming spring.
How to rear Saturnia pavoniella, the Ligurian Emperor moth
S. pavoniella is one of the easiest Saturniidae species to rear and breed, achieving a couple is easy and the larvae are higly polyphagous . Despite their long diapause, we recommend the Ligurian Emperor to all breeders, from beginners to experts!
Saturnia pavoniella larvae are very resistant but pay attention to avoid overcrowding during the last stages. Initially, they can be raised in plastic boxes (up to 20 larvae till L3 in these) and then, switched in the netting cages.
As told before, Saturnia pavoniella is a polyphagus moth. Generally, larvae are found on plants of the family Rosaceae. In captivity, we suggest Prunus spinosa as well as other deciduous Prunus species and Rubus spp *.
Where to store moth cocoons across summer and winter?
Ligurian Emperor moth cocoons can be removed from the cage once they have hardened. Then, place emperor moth cocoons in a box or at the bottom of a cage. Keep them cool, avoiding direct sunlight. You can store them inside your home!
Don’t worry, cocoons will hatch the following spring. When autumn comes, Saturnia pavoniella cocoons should be placed in an airtight plastic box and put in the refrigerator untill the following spring. Once the winter has passed and the leaves of the host- plant are available, the cocoons of our Saturnia pavoniella can be placed outside. After 2-3 weeks, the adults will emerge.
Outdoor setup for S. pavoniella diapause, pros and cons
If you are interested in synchronizing your cocoons with the wild ones, you can let the cocoons spend the whole winter season outside, exposed to rain and frost without taking any risks. The silk which composes the cocoons of Saturnia pavoniella is very resistant (don’t try to cut it!) and it is designed to withstand the natural elements.
Using the outdoor setup, it can happen that the adults emerge too early during the first days of abnormal heat at the end of the winter. In this case the leaves of the host-plant won’t be yet available. Therefore, if your intent is to breed and rear Saturnia pavoniella with an hig percentage of success, we suggest you to keep the cocoons in the refrigerator in an airtight container (the refrigerator is very dry insiede) until the following spring, when the leaves of the plants are tender and already formed. An ideal period to warm up cocoons is from the first week of february to the third, depending on latitude.