Imperial Moth Pupae - Alive or dead? How to tell?

Asked May 30, 2018, 3:50 PM EDT

My coworker and I found an injured female imperial moth that laid a few eggs on a rock late last summer. We managed to raise two of them into pupae: one male and one female based on their pupa markings. They were relatively active upon first molting into pupae, but only the female remained active and still wiggles around a bit. The male stopped moving. Is he okay? Did he die? I read that some silk moth pupae are normally active like that until emerging.

The male pupa has been dormant for many months now, but he is not brittle or hollow. He still feels heavy and full, he is just not moving. I assumed if he had died he would have rotted, but I am still worried he is no longer alive. I don't know how to tell and I can't find any information online about how the pupae of this species should behave. They have been in pupa since October of last year. Please help!

Montgomery County Pennsylvania butterflies

1 Response

I recommend you wait until the female emerges before deciding about the male. According to a fact sheet from the University of Florida extension, It is too early for them to emerge. The best way to know what is happening is to search the life cycle of an insect. There are a couple of websites such as bug guide that can give you good clues as to the environment the insect requires to complete its life cycle. For example, the guide says the larvae pupate in the soil. That may influence whether or not the transformation into a moth is completed.