What is this pupa?
Location: Indianapolis, IN
November 4, 2010 6:07 pm
I just found this pupa on the ground in our yard, underneath a tree. What on earth is it???? It is black and definitely alive because it keeps wriggling. Its surface is really hard and smooth with clearly defined ringed segments encircling half of it. On the end opposite the rings, there are 2 tear-drop shaped impressions — possibly wings? There is a series of holes down the sides. What is it? And, can we keep it in a jar to watch it come out without killing it?
Signature: Zion, age 6
We applaud your curiosity. This is a Moth Pupa, but we are a bit reluctant to attempt a species identification because so many moths that form pupa underground look similar. Our first guess was perhaps a Regal Moth, but we don’t think the outline of the wing pads (you were correct) seem different. Our second guess would be an Imperial Moth, and in our attempt to locate an image of its pupa, we stumbled upon this charming YouTube Video called Imperial Moth Caterpillar Goes to Pupate by Andrei Sourakov. The Pupa was not on screen long enough to compare. You pupa does seem to resemble the Imperial Moth Pupa, Eacles imperialis, posted on BugGuide. The series of holes are the spiracles by which the insect breathes. We would not recommend a jar for keeping this pupa alive. We would suggest a cage with potting soil in the bottom. Do not keep the potting soil to wet or too dry. Ideal temperature is a protected and unheated area, like perhaps a garage. Good Luck.
Thanks so much for your response. We have all been wondering what this treasure represents. We will do our best to keep it alive until it emerges. This is an interesting project for my son’s inquisitive mind.