‘The Life of Casta’

Psyche casta in fact. I have been pondering this species for some time, wishing to catch a male. I have collected numerous cases as they climb up posts, walls, plants etc to pupate and only ever found females emerging. I got to wondering if they were parthenogenic, however males are known and have been illustrated. They are reported to fly in morning sunshine. My ponderings reached a conclusion around 12th June this year. Whilst sorting a catch at The Patch at around an hour or so after sunrise there were a number of small black insects flying in an haphazard fashion in the vicinity. I took them to be caddis flies and caught a few to identify. The first clearly identified them as Psychids. I took a couple home and introduced one into the container of the emerged female Psyche casta. The males are over sexed. Mating took place within a minute or so. The male then mated with a dead female. Unfortunately for him it was impossible to separate and he died in this position. A day later a Psyche casta male came into the house to the container of emerged females. Their strongly pectinate antennae clearly serve very efficiently in finding their mates. Having captured females in the past, they turn around after mating and lay their eggs inside the case. The young Psyche casta upon hatching then feed on the body of their mother and cut pieces of her home up to make their own. I have little knowledge of the larvae and what they feed on but considering their first meal is their mother then I suspect they will eat anything. If the larva is female it will climb up to pupate. If it is a male it will not.

Psyche casta

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One Response to ‘The Life of Casta’

  1. keith says:

    Excellent observations !

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