Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) life history
Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) Life History





Second-instar larvae appear to be peeking over the leaf, 10-25-12

Second instar, 10-27-12

Third instar, 10-31-12

Fourth instar, 11-07-12

Fifth instar, 11-17-12

Sixth and final instar, 11-26-12

Prepupal caterpillar, 11-27-12

Pupa, 11-28-12

Fresh adult female Tawny Emperor, ventral, 12-6-12

Fresh adult female Tawny Emperor, dorsal, 12-6-12

A captive female laid eggs on a small, potted Hackberry tree (Celtis laevigata). The eggs were deposited on 10-14-12; they emerged on 10-21-12.

Once the caterpillars emerged from the eggs, they were moved into a rearing container and placed on branches cut from a tree growing in the yard. The caterpillars showed communal behavior through the fourth instar. Some would separate to feed, but they would return to the group to rest. Presumably this is protective behavior.

While the caterpillars were in the fourth instar, one day the food became overly dry. Although fresh food was immediately provided, the poor condition apparently triggered diapause in most of the larvae. One suspects that at this time of the year (late November, when food quality is deteriorating and cold weather is possible), the larvae are very sensitive to environmental changes.

One caterpillar only continued normal feeding; it is this caterpillar which is pictured to the right in the later stages of development. The diapausal caterpillars were placed with fresh food in a humid container. Two responded after a couple of days and began feeding; these were also raised. The rest remained in diapause and eventually were placed at the base of an outside tree.

Face of Tawny Emperor
(may be green or black)

The eggs of this study eclosed 6 days after they were deposited; the primary caterpillar pupated after 38 days. The adult emerged 8 days later, making the cycle from egg to adult 52 days. Presumably, the caterpillars would mature much more quickly in warm weather.

Caterpillar comparison of the three common Asterocampa species found in Starr County.

Tawny Emperor Page