BIO 203


          Lonomia obliqua has a common life cycle for moths within its family, Saturniidae. A female will lay on average 135 eggs with fertility in about 120 of these eggs (Lorini et al. 2003). A lab study was done in 2003 in Brazil, where they captured caterpillars from the Brazil rainforests to watch the reproduction of Lonomia obliqua. In this study, they found an average incubation period of 32 days (Lorini et al. 2003). This data is very similar to that of others in the same family as L. obliqua.

       The caterpillar form of this moth is the form scientists are very familiar with as it is the part considered to be very dangerous to humans and is the form most studied. The caterpillars average 4.5-5.5 cm which is about two inches in length (Lorini et al. 2003). They can grow to about the size of a male human hand (Lorini et al. 2003) They have a range of body/background colors from brown to green oftentimes they also have yellow feet and red spots on their body (Lorini et al. 2007). Their body color allows for them to hide effectively in with trees and their bark where they the most dangerous to humans (Lorini et al. 2007). On their backs, they have spiny crystal-like structures that contain their deadly venom. These spines are what make the caterpillar so dangerous. If you would to know more about these spines make sure to check out the adaptations page

       The larval stage of L. obliqua is the most dominant and easiest to observe.  The larvae tend to stay in groups together oftentimes with their heads pointed outward in relation to the group, and when disturbed they will start to move in a line and become active ( Lorini et al. 2007). When the caterpillars reach the later pupal stages of metamorphosis that is when they start to change. In the pre-pupal stage, the larvae will stop eating, their body size will decrease while their body becomes a little bent (Lorini et al. 2007) . Their dorsal part will also become a darker color. In a lab setting, the stage from larva to pupa take about 60 minutes from the time the larval skin ruptures to when the outer shell is shed (Lorini et al. 2007). The pupal period is very important and lasts on average 24-56 days (Lorini et al. 2007). Young pupa will be a yellowish color and become darker in a few hours. The next day they will become a reddish brown color and remain this way until the end of the pupal stage(Lorini et al. 2007) Pupal stages may often occur in the two possible generations in a year. The first one occurs in October when adults mate and leaves eggs on a host plant’s leaf, with the other generation occur in March at the end of summer.  The pupae will disappear in the coldest months of the year (Lorini et al. 2007).

      Once the caterpillar goes through the changes in metamorphosis they will appear as a moth. This moth is non-venomous unlike the stage before of the caterpillar. They have a very short life and often only live for several days. This is mainly because adults do not feed and their lives are dedicated to mating and laying eggs on continue on generations (Lorini et al. 2007).

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