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Moth general/experiment

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Thread replies: 99
Thread images: 24

Alright /an/, time for some questionable experimentation.

A pet-shop nearby sells hornworms for use as lizard treats. I grabbed a couple and threw them in with my skink along with some tomatoes to keep the caterpillars fed. My skink ate one, but the others grew pretty quickly and were too big for her to eat (small five-lined skink). They pupated, and 8 weeks later, emerged as drab hawk-moths.
I noticed that the moth resulting from the caterpillar which ate the most red-tomato matter had the most vibrant coloration, and I don't believe this is attributable to its sex, as both were male, by inspection.
I want to try a lil experiment, feeding the caterpillars a custom mash of tomato and potato paste infused with varrying non-toxic dyes to see the resulting impact on moth coloration.
I have the understanding that much of the coloration is due to carotenoids in the food source of the caterpillar, so I've planned to test the effect of concentration on coloration (mashes of white potato, sweet-potato, and pure tomato paste).

As a side experiment, I was going to test the persistence of artificial dyes in the flesh of the caterpillars, and after their metamorphosis. I'll test blue and red food-colorings, as well as the non-toxic fluorescent dye fluorescene, which can be extracted from highlighters.

Ideas? Concerns? For everyone else, Apamea general thread.
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>>1988797
I'm not personally aware of information regarding imagoes based on larval diet in Lepidopterans. It doesn't seem to come up for some reason. I'm now interested in this.
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I once turned a potato blue by letting its roots drink nothing but blue dyed water

I Want to see if you can make them glow in the dark
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pls keep us posted, /op/

lets see some hilighter moths
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>>1988814
As do I. I assume that the caterpillars which receive the fluoroscene diet will glow under a blacklight, but whether or not the dye remains in high-enough concentrations to be seen in the adult is what I'm looking for.

There are some varieties of moth which have been bred to contain jellyfish fluorescence genes in order to track population migration. My goal would be a similar aesthetic result.
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>>1988797
aren't potatoes toxic to hornworms?
even tomatoes aren't what they normally eat and probably lack critical nutrients.
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>>1988824
My previous batch gorged themselves on tomatoes, no evidence of health problems. They also ate the seeds, which were most likely more nutritious than the fruit-matter.
After searching pet forums of reptile owners who breed their own caterpillars, using potato as the primary feed leads to the quickest growth.

As another note, the hornworms which have not yet eaten anything other than their synthesised feed which they are shipped with are primarily blue in color, while those that have eaten mostly tomatoes are closer to a light green.
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>>1988827
>using potato as the primary feed leads to the quickest growth.
sure, but are they talking leaves or stems or what?

hornworms eat leaves in the wild. That's about it.
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>>1988828
An excellent note. Perhaps I will add a leafy substrate to the mash.

This will have to be universal, lest I add another test group. Most of my tomato plants were killed off by a recent frost, so I'm a bit short on their favorite, but perhaps I could throw in raw spinach or bibb lettuce to meet the same dietary needs.

Again, I'm looking to find aa way to make the moths look as funky as possible, not pamper them with a perfect diet.
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>>1988832
but if you add greens you will get green color
you need to keep your feed as neutral colored as possible. as long as they survive to adulthood who cares?

I would hope you are just going to gas them immediately and mount them if you get some good colors
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>>1988827
I think it's kind of weird that you fed them tomato fruits.
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>>1988835
And that's why I will want to make the change uniform. I'm sure I could get a couple raised on the synth food that have pupated from the pet store, they practically throw those ones away.

hell, if I get one or two breeding pairs, I might keep them around just to feed my lizard.

Mounting insects hasnt ever been a skill of mine, many a wing broken. I would guess that the colors would eventually degrade as well.

I believe photographs will suffice.

>>1988840
They ate them up like hot-cakes. I had a surplus after canning and giving most away. Very productive season.
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Mash is prepared. Since the overall goal is to see if I can make them glow, I've added fluoroscien to all of them, along with red 40 and yellow food dye to one, and blue dye to the other.

Will purchase the caterpillars tomorrow.
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>>1989168
This is neat. I can't wait to see how this turns out. Of course, this is going to take several weeks to find out.
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>>1989171
I know, I'll post whenever there's a noticeable change, and screencap this thread if it's pruned
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What's your preferred method for killing moths? Also how do you pin moths which are smaller than a pins head?
Finally does anybody know how to pith a moth here?
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>>1989204
The most human way to kill lepidoptera to pin is to catch them and let them die naturally. Which isn't ideal, because their wings get damaged as they fly. You could also put them in a freezer for a few day, they fall asleep and die. Make sure you unthaw them completely before pinning because they may not be dead MAKE SURE THEY ARE DEAD. I recently had an accident where I was pinning an elm sphinx I froze, and as it was setting on the spreading boand is jolted awake and ripped it's wings, I felt really bad actually. The fastest way is a kill jar. You place the lepidoptera in a jar wish a cotton ball soaked in acetate, or nail Polish remover. They will die in 2-5 minutes depending on the size and species of the moth. As for pinning very small moths there are things called points. Which you can buy from anywhere that sells pinning or taxidermy supplies. They are little paper diamonds to display small insects on a pin. Pic related. I hope this helps.
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>>1989218
And Jesus christ, sorry for my grammar. I'm on mobile. But really if you have any questions I rear all sorts of moths and lepidoptera and have a pretty big collection. Mostly saturniids.
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>>1989218
gassing them works a lot better.

when I still worked with moths I used Laurus sp. leaves to kill them, gets the job done relatively well.
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>>1989218
I've been using a kill jar with rubbing alcohol but I don't think it's very effective as it takes around 30+ minutes and their scales are ruined by 10 minutes. How do you stop them from thrashing about? Would using acetate incapacitate them?
Also for moths which have large bodies, do you need to do anything to preserve them?
Thanks.
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>>1989225
>How do you stop them from thrashing about?
the same way as bees.
>do you need to do anything to preserve them?
you'll need moth balls so they don't get eaten by carpet beetles and other shit.
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>>1989223
Moth Hitler.
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>>1989225

Freezer is the best for anything with wings.

>Also for moths which have large bodies, do you need to do anything to preserve them?

If they're huge you need to gut them.
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>>1989204
Gassing is my preferred method. Theres a whole bunch of websites and useful youtube videos to show you pinning of moths and how to gas. Id explain it more but I'm not home right now
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Got them.
For size reference, the grid is .5x.5cm squares.

Whether or not they eat the mash is yet to be seen. Will keep lurkers posted as noticeable changes occur, if any, or it there is a halt in the plans.
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I've heard that caterpillars are incredibly picky with what they eat. Everywhere I read that they lay the eggs only on host plants, yet the eggs I recently found were on glass and wood. What can I do?
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>>1989799
First you determine what species it is. Then you look up what they eat as caterpillar. When the little caterpillars emerge from the eggs you move them to the foodplant.
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>>1989780
Can't wait for the conclusion OP
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>>1989780
where do you get them?
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This is a great thread. I look forward to seeing what happens.
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>>1990726
You can order them online in bulk, usually shipped as newly hatched caterpillars in a plastic container with all the food they need to survive until they get eaten, or individually from a pet/feed store like I did.
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Alright, no visible changes as of yes, but I can confirm that the caterpillars are eating the mash, as their feces are deeply colored the same as their corresponding food.

Will post pics tomorrow.
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>>1991165
Looking forward to it OP
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Bird keepers regularly feed birds the Carophyll Red (or orange or yellow) product which is an isolation of the necessary checmicals required to bring out the red colouration in canaries (or other birds) that already have it in their genetic make up.

If you really want to try it then get it.
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>>1991165
I have no useful advice that hasn't already been posted, but you can add one more person to the 'I really want to see how this turns out' list.
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>>1991015
nigga i meant what site. who's your dealer? i need my caterpillar fix man i'm jonesin hard!
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>>1991202
I hesitate to give you the name of the place I got them singly, but I know that mulberryfarms (diggitydot) com is their provider. They sell the specially made food, too. Just be weary if you were going to give them tomato, like i did. Once they've tasted real fresh food, they don't like to go back.

>>1991015
is me, was posting from phone
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>>1991389
ah thanks. and i understand your discretion. i didn't read your post thoroughly enough to grasp it was a local place
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Looking forward to an update!
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As a break-down, 'A' received the mash with fluorescein only, 'B' received the mash with fluorescein and blue dye, and 'C' received the mash with fluoresein red and yellow dye.

C has grown the most. it's mash turned out the softest, so it is possible that, since it is easier to consume, it eat more and therefor gorws more quickly. It isn't apparent from the image, but under blacklight, it has a more purple hue than the others.

B has grown the least, but its mash is softer than A, and A has still grown more. Because my sample size is relatively small, I can't tell if the growth-rate is specific to the individual caterpillars or if it has some other factor confounding the results.

Still no major change in appearance under normal light besides their size. C is looking slightly pink, but this could be due to surface absorption of the red dye, as it crawls all over its food.

>>1991179
I'll look into this if I were going to try this experiment more in-depth, and with a greater sample size, or more varieties of caterpillar.

Does anyone have any suggestions on commercially available moth/butterfly larvae to try in another possible experiment? Or other types of pigments I could test? The ones that I'm using now are primarily water-soluble, so it is possible that the hornworms flush it out of their systems before it is absorbed. I'm not familiar with any fat-soluble non-toxic dyes, let-alone fluorescent ones.
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Bump for op
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Thanks OP this is actually pretty cool.
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bumpity
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>>1992003
Continue you research with horn caterpillars, dont try another species yet, buy a bunch more and keep it up... but I must point out something. You need some "control" caterpillars by this I mean that you need to feed some individuals the normal way, just simply leaves, to compare the tested subject with them.
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>>1993689
I have 2 pupae from my supplier, which had only eaten the synthetic feed, and one more that had eaten tomatoes before pupation, all of which are in a refrigerator set to 38degrees F in order to delay maturation.

They aren't really much to look at rn, and can remain in this state for months.

Any other control group is unnecessary, as the goal is to change the adult moths appearance, and either of these pupae are representatives of the baseline.

Will post pics when I do another full update.
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Since this thread's title claims to be a general I feel more comfortable posting my question here than making a new thread.

Found this guy on my back yard, thought it was a piece of rug my dog dug out of somewhere (we're moving a lot of shit around right now) but it turned out to be a caterpillar. I was wondering if anyone could help me identify it or recommend a site to do it myself. Right now it's not moving a whole lot, maybe it's dying.
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>>1994214
Here's another view.
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>>1994214
That's a rug caterpillar. It's common to the entire Earth because all animals have global distribution.
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>>1994214
Where do you live? it would be a lot easier to give taxonomic classification of the caterpillar if we knew the region it was from.
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>>1994318
>>1994234
Whoops sorry, I completely forgot I have to mention that. I live in Sonora, Mexico.
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Anyone know what this caterpillar is?
It's from Missouri.
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Bump,where you at OP?
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>>1996216
Feeling like shit, I'll photo update when I feel like getting out of bed.

As a written description of the noticeable changed, A has continued eating the regular mash with no apparent sign of fluorescence. C has grown a whole hell of a lot, and although there doesn't appear to be any surface discoloration other than around the mouth, its spiracles seem to be shited to a deep red, suggesting that the dye has, at the very least, stained it's internal organs a deep red. C has grown the least yet again, and it mouth and anus are both dyed blue like a three-year-old after eating a blue-raspberry slurpee.

Sorry for the halt in updates, classes are ramping up towards finals, and I've had the flu for a few days.
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>>1994214
>>1994224
Generally, furry caterpillars like that would be from the tiger moth family, though I can't seem to find any with that coloration and fur pattern on any taxonomic keys for your region.
These can be mildly venomous, so keep your handling of it to a minimum. Any hairs which remain on your skin after handling may lead to irritation, a rash, or an allergic reaction, depending on the type and your health.

I say, keep it fed and see what it turns into. Document what you find, and get back to us.

>>1994325
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Caterpillars
The closest looking types I could find from the area are Malacosoma disstria and Phyllodesma americana, but none are a perfect visual match. Perhaps it could be a silkworm that was released, but I rather doubt it.
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The caterpillars died. I cannot find anymore right now, ill open a new thread when i find some more
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>>1996629
All the caterpillars died? What happened?
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>>1996629
Sorry to hear that, good luck op!
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>>1996629
Don't believe that impostor, they are alive, update tomorrow.

>sent from phone in a drunken haze
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or in a few hours. I dunno rn.

Fuck that other guy.
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Update, update, update.
I don't know why b refuses to grow. Then again, I also can't explain why b has doubled in size over the course of a week. It isn't super visible, but b had a dyed blue mouth, and an off-blue green rectum. B is discolored to a light shade of pink around its head, with deep red spiracles. A is just chugging along, midway in size between the two, with no change in visible coloration.
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you keep track of how much they eat?
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Here are the pupates, the two one the left were fed the factory feed, the one on the right was fed tomato. It's not very apparent, but the tomato fed is longer and thinner than the factory fed ones
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>>1997725
Not precisely, but I add more food to their boxes every three days, and swap out the bedding if it ever becomes moldy.
B certainly doesn't crap as much, so I would assume it has been eating less. It also appears to have a more woody stool, so it might actually be eating it's bedding along with the mash.

Here they are under black light. The venation of their skin patterns is becoming more visible. No apparent sign of colored fluorescence, though c does still have a mildly pinkish tone.
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Although this moth wasn't monitored throughout its development as thoroughly as these I am currently documenting, it should serve as a good baseline for what an ordinary, healthy male moth would look like, though it's right wing was never properly unfurled. One of the factory fed pupates is female by inspection, so I'll keep that in mind when observing the adult forms.
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I found this caterpillar and I've been taking proper care of him but I just have no idea what kind he is? A moth? A butterfly ? What breed? And yes I have done many hours of research , I seriously can not find out what he is ! Any help guys?
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>>1999186
It looks like he has the face of a duck. Even has a bill and everything.
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we need to keep this thread alive. I'm too curious about this
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>>1999186
As a general rule, always post with your general location, where you found it, and how old you are as a reference to your level of reading comprehension. Taxonomy only works well when you know where something is from. Use the link I posted to figure it out based on appearance and place of origin, we aren't going to do anyone's ecology homework.
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Hornworm C has stopped eating, and it entering the roaming stage. Pupation isn't far away.
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>>1999260
>I have no clue, why don't you tell me where it's from and maybe I can google it and pretend I know shit about taxonomy.

>>1999186
army cutworm.
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>>1999753
Hey now, I did mention the link as a starting point trying to avoid the whole thing of
>it's obviously a duck caterpillar and is common to the entire earth because all animals have a global distribution
I've had my experience with botanical taxonomy, animal classification isn't all too different so long as you know which regional guide to look in.
But since twelve year olds seem to be ubiquitous through this site, I guess there's no point in babying them.
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>>1999186
Lel at first I thought this was OP and I thought "What the fuck did he do to these caterpillars??"
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>>1997120
just doing my job to get you back in here,
<3
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Come back OP you kek
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>>2002145
Srry. Been working on prep for finals and feeding my crippling alcoholism. Will try to update soon.
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Go OP go!! I believe in you keep us posted!!
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Test subject C is dead. Last time I checked on it was 3 days ago, while it was in the roaming phase, and this morning, I found its blackened corpse lying dead. Can't tell what went wrong. This is the first time I've had a hornworm die on me.
A is just finishing pupation. I hadn't even seen it entering the roaming stage, so perhaps some other stress forced it to pupate early.
B is still small and eating a whole lot. Will post pics when I get back home tonight.
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Jk, power is out, I'll do it in the morning
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>>2002478
do you have soil for them to burrow in?
a lot of times they die if they don't find somewhere to burrow.
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>>1988828
In truth though, I work for a plant nursery which supplies tomato plants in large masses, and I find more of these horn worms than any other type of insect on the plants. They can devour an entire mature tomato plant in less than 8 hrs sometimes. They love tomatoes!!
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>>2002671
There is peat moss under cedar wood shavings in each of their boxes. This is the first time one of them has died just before pupation. Possibly due to fungi growing on the food, but I replaced it and the bedding whenever it became noticeable.
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>>1988840
Not sure if they are native where I live, (Nevada) but we get hornworms in our tomato gardens on occasion. I always figured the mother laid eggs on the plant before it was shipped to our individual Lowes. Anyways, if you don't remove them immediately, they'll eat every part of the tomato plant, fruit, leaves, stems and all.
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>>1989220
Isn't there a safe way to moisten them up so if you are very very careful you can arrange them after they are pinned without damaging them, then once they dry out they are perfectly arranged and will last as long as any other preserved insect?
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>>1997722
This is why scientists do experiments with so many trials. To get meaningful results you'd need 25-50 of each caterpillar and feed them each the same food prepared daily or hourly.

The way your experiment is setup now makes it nearly impossible to correlate anything to the variables. Who knows if the larger caterpillar is growing because it's simply healthier, or kept slightly warmer, or what. If there seems to be any sort of corellation, you should redo the experiment using at least 10 caterpillars fed each type of food.

Not trying to be mean, it's an interesting hypothesis but I think it lacks rigor.
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>>2002713
He's clearly doing it for fun, not to make some kind of scientific breakthrough.
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>>2002720
Fair enough, but little experiments like this can be useful. Imagine if OP did a more legit study, and posted it online somewhere besides here. Another scientist may see it and get an idea to try more fluorescence experiments. Someone might tabulate that data and come up with a good fluorescence dye which can be given to pests and used to track them in a more non-invasive way. More noninvasive tracking methods help get more accurate data when tracking the behavior and migration of animals. THis could help lead to breakthroughs in pest control methods and even early warning systems for farmers. Or it could work up the food chair and see what is preying on these pests, when and where it's happening.

Fluorescence experiments have uses in human biotechnology as well. OP could find that the dye concentrates in weird areas on some caterpillars, and those caterpillars remain smaller and die earlier. Or maybe they live longer and grow more quickly. Maybe another scientist can see that and determine if it's some sort of disease or something.
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>>2002736
that's not really how science works. It's sort of how science works, but you're imagining all sorts of fantastic findings and applications that almost certainly aren't true in reality.

If OP was doing science he'd be making predictions based on the chemistry of the dye and the physiology of the animal, not just trying stuff and seeing what happens without understanding why. I'm not knocking the thread, it IS amusing. But to think it's science or will produce useful results is a pretty huge stretch of the imagination.
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>>2002763

>literally knows nothing about science history

You really need to open a book. Just doing random shit and then figuring out what happened after makes up a ridiculous amount of our history.
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>>2002766
yes, that is our past.

if OP had read any of that history he'd be able to predict the outcome of his "experiments."

that's why scientists go to school for years and read what's been done already. So we don't waste time repeating experiments from 1642.
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>>2002768
I figured it wasn't going to work. I've read into the half-life of commercial food dyes , and with the materials I had available, I wasn't going for some grand discovery, just testing what would happen for fun.
Fluoroscein has been deeply studied for various spectroscopy diagnostic practices, and its big benefit is that it is flushed out of the body fairly quickly. I didn't expect much to remain in the flesh of the caterpillars, but rather that residues and fluids in the digestive tract would give them a mildly fluorescent appearance. This wasn't the case, and there is a whole host of reasons why, ranging from enzymes in the gun breaking it down, to a pH change rendering it inert.

And I hardly have the resources to create an extensive formal experiment. Hornworms are pretty expensive, and I like to eat more than I like testing on animals.
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>>2003000
Nice trips, OP. But still, this has been a highly intriguing thread for me to browse through. Please keep us updated. Even if it doesn't end the way you had hoped, I would still love to know what happens next.
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>>2003000
OP you should play around with epigenetics if this works. Breed two moths from group A, make them breed, then feed their offspring what the control group ate. It would be interesting to see if gen 2 retains the colouring of group A, or goes back to the drab colours of the control group.
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>>2003200
They ate food coloring and highlighter fluid, not radioactive cobalt. Any impact of the treatment would be solely cosmetic with nearly no other impact, besides malnutrition. The effects on the next generation would be zero, in terms of color.
That's why people who eat lots of superman ice cream don't wind up looking blue or having blue babies, with the exception of child-murderers.
That's also why fluoroscien is save to use for urinary spectroscopy of pregnant women, as it passes through the excretory system without a high level of toxicity.
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>>2003200
I might attempt the experiment again with the recommended additive of chlorophyll b and beta-carotenoids, which I found are sold as tropical bird supplements at the same pet store. Someone recommended these in another forum for butterfly caterpillars, and in a previous reply.
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>>2003222
Good luck OP!
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>>2003222
If these types of caterpilars are too expensive to have multiples of each for each food, why not try the experiment again with a cheaper insect? You could do meal worms or something.
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>>2003219
Diet has affected later generations in the past. http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/features/142195/beyond-dna-epigenetics

It probably wouldn't have a noticeable effect, but it potentially could.
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>>1997729
Sleep tight, puppers.
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>>2003699
The only expected result would be a generation of smaller, hungrier caterpillars, which would enter pupation early due to stress.

That's what has happened here. On the left is subject A, the only surviving caterpillar. On the right is a factory-fed pupate. That size difference isn't negligible. A surely entered pupation early. B is blackened and dead.
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