Luna Moths

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)April 4, 2014

I overwintered about a dozen luna moth cocoons. A male emerged earlier this spring and left the cage as soon as it got dark. A female emerged yesterday, so about 9:00 p.m. or so, after it had gotten really dark, I opened the cage door. About 9:30 I went out with a flashlight, and a male was already there! Lunas don't usually call until around ?midnight, or so I thought, since males don't usually show up until then, but this guy didn't waste any time! And I never heard a sound on the porch, so there was apparently no flopping around trying to find the female. This female is small, but the male is BIG!
Anyway, they've been coupled since 9:30 last night. I didn't want to open the cage door earlier to make their picture and risk scaring them into uncoupling. That happened once before, and the female spilled far more eggs than I wanted to raise. Chances are, if she stays with him until she's ready to leave, she'll only spill a few eggs in the cage, maybe none.

Unfortunately, the flash doesn't work on the cheap camera, so this picture, taken late in the evening, is very bad. But lunas are so beautiful to me, they're always worth looking at -

'Can't wait for my new camera!

Sherry

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Leafhead

Awesome!! Hoping to encounter Lunas here in Wisconsin. They are definitely on my bucket list :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 2:36AM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

Oh, thank you so much for sharing! So interesting how quickly the male found the female. I learn so much from you and the forum participants.

Congrats on your new camera. Looking forward to many new photos from your garden this season.

Mary

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 10:12AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks Mary and Leafhead!

As soon as it got dark, the male fluttered around the cage, so I let him out and off he went in a big hurry! 'Must be another female out there calling?
But the female never left, even though I left the door opened for her! This has happened before, and they always leave the second night. If she doesn't, I'll just have to pick her up and put her on a sweetgum tree - sweetgums are full of leaves now, and that was what she was raised on. Whenever I've found luna moth caterpillars in the woods, they were always on sweetgums.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks Mary and Leafhead!

As soon as it got dark, the male fluttered around the cage, so I let him out and off he went in a big hurry! 'Must be another female out there calling?
But the female never left, even though I left the door opened for her! This has happened before, and they always leave the second night. If she doesn't, I'll just have to pick her up and put her on a sweetgum tree - sweetgums are full of leaves now, and that was what she was raised on. Whenever I've found luna moth caterpillars in the woods, they were always on sweetgums.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 12:19PM
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cghpnd

Thats awesome misssherry.
Thanks for sharing.
I enjoy learning from your post.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 9:41PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

You're welcome, cghpnd - I enjoy posting my lep adventures! :)

The female left the next night without leaving me any eggs. There are more cocoons in the cage, though, so I'll probably get another chance.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 10:37PM
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leubafr(z8/9)

I have had the luna moths and also cecropia (sp)?.......a beautiful brown colored moth with eyes on the wings. What tree or bush do they use?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 6:08PM
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leubafr(z8/9)

Miss Sherry, I have also had the Zebra swallowtail this year........lots of them. What is their host plant or tree? I know you have so much knowledge. Black swallowtails and other beautiful BF's here but no Monarchs at all. My milkweed went to waste with the winter we had. We moved from the Slidell area out to the Picayune/Bogalusa area in the National Wildlife Refuge (Bogue Chitto). I need to start my BF raising again if I can.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 6:13PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'm SO jealous of you, Mary, isn't it? I'm not sure if I'm remembering your name right. Zebra swallowtails are so rare here, I've only seen them a few times.

Zebra swallowtails use pawpaws. The scientific name for pawpaws is Asimina, with Asimina triloba being the common pawpaw that makes the fruit people can eat. In our area, we also have Asimina parviflora, a smaller version of A. triloba. A. parviflora is likely what your zebra swallowtails came from, since that grows on the bluffs above just about every creek in south Mississippi.

Do you have any pawpaws planted? If you have some and get caterpillars and need more pawpaw leaves, I've got several here that are finally leafing out.

You can order A. triloba from MANY mail order nurseries. Sunlight Gardens in Tennessee and Pine Ridge Gardens in Arkansas both send big healthy plants, and I think they both carry it. I'm so desperate for zebra swallowtails, if you'd like, I could order some and plant them on your property - I'm serious! :)

I haven't seen a monarch all year and didn't see one last year. I've ordered some milkweed, though, just in case, and I know all butterflies like to nectar on MW flowers.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 6:35PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

How cool, Sherry!

I may have shown this pic before, but I'll post it again.
I saw these 2 either last spring or the spring before that. I was really excited. I mean how often do we get to see something like this?
Plus, they were close to a sweetgum tree. Unfortunately, right after that, we had several hard freezes, so I'm assuming the eggs didn't make it.
Maybe this year will be better!

Thanks for sharing all your great pictures with us!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:52PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

That's a gorgeous picture, Catherine!

There's another luna moth in the cage right now. I'll go open the door soon. I'm pretty sure she's a female, so maybe she'll deposit some eggs in the cage like so many lunas do. That's how I raised the group she came from. :)

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 8:22PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

BEYOND cool Sherry!!!! How could anyone ever get sick of looking at Lunas? Thanks for sharing them!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 9:56AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'll never get tired of looking at luna moths!

A male found the second female, and they've been a couple since about ?10:00 last night.

When I went out to the garage, I noticed a lump on an old magnolia leaf. That lump is a cocoon! At first I thought it was a luna moth cocoon, but now I think it's probably a polyphemus moth. I cut the leaf off and put it in a cage, so when it emerges, I'll know which it is. I kind of hope it's a polyphemus moth, since lunas seem to be plentiful, and, having two mated females recently, their numbers will undoubtedly increase. I haven't seen many polys lately.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:47PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

That's really cool Sherry! You are so lucky to be in an area that has so many flutterbyes!

I don't raise butterflies myself. We hardly had any at all last year.....probably from the previous year's drought. But hopefully this year will be much better. I can't wait to see them!
Let us know what your cocoon ends up being!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 4:34PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I'll keep you posted about the cocoon, Catherine!

Another luna moth emerged yesterday afternoon, this one very big, with big eyes and comb. He hung in the cage straight up and down, and he left some time during the night. The females hang at an angle when, I assume, they're "calling". When he hadn't assumed that position when I last looked at him at about 10:00 p.m., I knew for sure he was a male.

Sherry

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 3:27PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Just found my first luna of the year. It's a girl. I somehow screwed up and had her with the poly cocoons so it was surprise to see something green in that aquarium.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:44PM
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tiffy_z5_6_can(5/6)

About five years ago you guided me through the raising of two Lunas. Loved it! Keep it up Miss Sherry! :O)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:09PM
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