A Luna Tale

butterflymomok(7a NE OK)August 16, 2010

My Luna actias have started eclosing recently, and I let four of them go and kept one really nice female. I put her out on the patio on the ground Saturday night and nothing seemed to happen. Then yesterday, I found a male luna that the body had been eaten on it. I'm sure it is all the frogs that live on my patio and eat the butterflies, etc that don't get away. So I moved the cage up on one of the plant shelves.

Last night I woke up a couple of times and wondered if there might be a male outside, but I just couldn't bring myself to get up and go check. This morning I found the cage knocked over. The female was alone, but there were eggs on the netting. Then I saw the male, he was above the cage up on the siding. I released the female and was going to get the camera to take a photo of her. I saw another male near the door. I took pictures of the three lunas, and for some reason looked up. We have sky lights. I counted a dozen luna moths! They were in the skylights, on the ceiling. A whole lot of males looking for some action!

We've lived here for 6 years and I've never seen a luna moth around. I always thought there had to be some in the area. Now, I've got my answer! And eggs for a new generation.

Sandy

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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

Always amazes me how many male lunas show up at my house when I put a female outside considering it took 40+ years for me to spot a wild luna in Ohio (first time ever was last month) without using female bait. There are a lot more out there than we think. Hopefully, it stays that way since they are my favorite moth.

KC

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:44AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Yes, indeed, it IS amazing how many males can show up when a female is "calling" - I've read they come from miles around!
Congrats, Sandy - how many other moths or butterflies do we have that are green, and a beautiful shade of it at that!
Sherry

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 12:51PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

I had more than usual this year, I found 5 one morning. One hung from the porch light for 2 days, another clung to the brick for 1 day. So what kind of enclosure do you put the female in? I would love to raise some eggs next year.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 4:31PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Wow. Now, this post has me really intrigued. It all just sounds so awesome! I have never ever laid my eyes upon a Luna Moth. I think that I would faint with joy. Butterflymomok, I see that you and I are in the same zone. How does a person attract Luna Moths to the yard? At the BMNA site, I see them listed for my state but not my county. Gosh, I would adore raising them, or heck, even just seeing one would be terrific. :o)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:08PM
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shannon74

I second bandjzmom - how do we get them to come around? I would LOVE to raise some. I am in North Texas.

Thnks!!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:42PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Bill Oehlke has a website where you can purchase eggs of the Luna Moth, and directions on how to raise them. You will need a host plant available in abundance to feed the caterpillars. Once you have raised your first brood, you will have the "bait" to see if there are Lunas in your area. I wouldn't raise them if they aren't found where you live. I found luna wings in the nature park near where I live, but never had seen any in my yard.

The bait is the newly eclosed female that you put outside to draw a male for mating. I used a cage made of a tomato cage with the prongs trimmed and bent in. I covered the cage with one of the 5 gallon paint strainers from Lowe's--fit perfectly--and set the whole thing (upside down) in a plant saucer. This makes a great eclosure container. I set the container outside so the female could call to males. It took several nights for the males to appear. If there are other Lunas around and a male finds your female, you will have more eggs to raise, and can continue this process indefinitely.

I became interested in raising moths after I raised Cecropia caterpillars that I found on my Buttonbush. I now have a second generation that has pupated. These won't eclose until next spring as there is only one generation a year. I'm not sure how many generations of Lunas there are. The caterpillars I raise from the eggs that were laid this morning will most likely pupate over the winter.

I have just gotten into raising moths lately. MissSherry, kcclark, and cecropia have been raising moths for quite a while. There are lots of posts on the Butterfly Forum about raising moths, as well as the information on Bill Oehlke's site.

It's something to think about and seriously consider before you take it on.

Sandy

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 12:09AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Sandy, thanks so much for the info! Well, it all sounds great to me. First, I need to do some research re host plants so that I can determine whether I already have them or need to plant them. Would there be pictures of your "cage" set-up available for viewing somewhere? I'll make sure that everything is in place before I begin. What month of the year would be a good one for me to plan to start trying? I am an avid butterfly gardener and am very conscientious when I am raising them. I understand about the seriousness of the undertaking. I actually found a slew of Milkweed Tussock Moth cats on my Common MW yesterday. I think that I shall take a few of them for raising and observing. Yes, I know to be careful, and I have done the research re burrowing substrates and all. The largest moth I have found here at my house was a Tersa Sphinx moth, which I found on my dining room floor last Fall. No clue as to how that puppy ended up there! :o) Thanks again for your help. I hope to one day see the majestic Luna.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 6:57AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Bandjzmom,

Go to Bill Oehlke's website. You can email him and find out when Luna eggs are available in your area. He has people ship them from all over, but, I'd stick with eggs that come from your same region. I think I'd wait until next spring so you can raise a brood that will eclose during the summer.

I posted directions and a photo for making the cages this morning--they are very simple.

Good luck,

Sandy

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 11:22AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Thank you so much Sandy. I really appreciate your time and the great info!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 9:19PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Thought I would go ahead and attach Bill's info on rearing Luna moth caterpillars. He has done quite a job with extensive research and hands-on rearing and I look to him and his website for virtually all of my info on rearing sphinx moths. His website also includes a state-by-state database of sphinx moths range and information, including LFPs and photos of the adults and larvae. I highly recommend that anyone who intends to raise either the silk moths or the sphinx moths utilize it. He also has a list of various states (may still be in progress) of the Catacolas as well. I found my first Catocola moth caterpillar this summer. Moths hold a real fascination for me, and I've handraised 11 different sphinx moth species found on various hosts in my backyard.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Luna Moth Rearing

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 7:12AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Thanks a bunch Susan! Great piece of info there. I have it bookmarked. Wow. I am getting excited now.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 7:22AM
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