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Semi-captive rearing of the African wild silkmoth Gonometa postica (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) on an indigenous and a non-indigenous host plant in Kenya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 December 2007

Boniface M. Ngoka*
ICIPE—African Insect Science for Food and Health, PO Box 30772-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Esther N. Kioko
ICIPE—African Insect Science for Food and Health, PO Box 30772-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Suresh K. Raina
ICIPE—African Insect Science for Food and Health, PO Box 30772-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Jones M. Mueke
Department of Biological Sciences, Kenyatta University, PO Box 43844-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
David M. Kimbu
ICIPE—African Insect Science for Food and Health, PO Box 30772-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
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The life cycle of the African wild silkmoth Gonometa postica Walker was studied between September 2000 and September 2001 in the Uasin Gishu District of western Kenya with Acacia mearnsii de Wild and Acacia hockii de Wild as host plants. The initial population of G. postica was set up from healthy live pupae in cocoons collected from host plants in the study area. Oviposition was carried out in net sleeves and small plastic cages. Moth emergence and oviposition were bimodal, occurring between September and October 2000 and between March and April 2001, respectively. Larvae were reared in semi-captivity by using net sleeves on the branches of the two host plants. Larvae passed through six developmental instars. The pupal stage lasted from December to February during the short rains and from June to September during the long rains. Moth fecundity in the net sleeves was higher than that of those kept in plastic cages and fewer eggs hatched in the plastic cages compared with the net sleeves. Larvae reared on A. mearnsii had a shorter developmental period compared with those reared on A. hockii. Male larvae spun cocoons earlier than females but moths of both sexes emerged simultaneously. Sexual dimorphism was exhibited in both pupal and adult stages, females being larger and heavier than males. The importance of the semi-captive rearing technique for sustainable utilization of wild silkmoths for mass production of cocoons is discussed.

Research Paper
Copyright © ICIPE 2008

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