Moth cocoon where do I keep it

jonijumpup(z5, GR MI)December 12, 2013

I picked this cocoon up in the yard a couple of weeks ago. It is 2 inches long. Should I keep it outdoors for the winter, or maybe in my unheated 8x10 garden barn, or in my attached garage, where the temps range normally in the 40s, but can get pretty warm when the weather is nice. I did not realize large moths were common here and do not know how they like to spend the winter.

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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

That is incredible! You can keep it in the garage. I think I raised one that way once--bet there is someone else here who knows if they would need some kind of humidity. They'll probably know the kind of moth too!

In my garage there is always a lot of coming and going with snow getting stomped on the ground or from the cars and the resultant humidity. Another option is to keep it outside somewhere where you can observe it so that it experiences natural conditions. You could add another layer of leaves on it to approximate how you found it.

How did you find it by the way?

Can I have permission to use your picture--I have been on a mission here trying to let people know about keeping their leaves, and this is one of the exact reasons why! E-mail me your name so that you can get credit if it's ok. It would only be used for educational purposes or be used for a short blurb on the blog I started to keep for our local Wild Ones chapter.

People rake their leaves into the streets, and have been throwing next year's butterflies and moths into the compost (they compost the leaves).

Is that an oak leaf too? Hard to tell from the angle.

Thanks for sharing!

Here is a link that might be useful: What's in your leaf pile

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:02PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

Just re-read your post; I'd probably keep it in the barn. The concern would be humidity, but if there is snow being tromped in and melting, I would think you'd be okay.

Hope someone with more experience will chime in.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 7:05PM
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tucker_sp(Z4 MN)

I agree with bernergrrl - keep it in the unheated barn. I used to raise lots of silkworm moths when I was young, and it's generally best to keep them in as close to natural outdoor conditions as possible. I would guess that you have a Luna moth cocoon there - could be a Polyphemus, but they generally stay attached to the tree, while the Lunas end up in the leaves on the ground. Hope you post pictures when it emerges in the spring!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 8:56PM
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What is your goal with the moth--study, release?

The humidity should be fine in an outbuilding like that. The cocoons are best stored in a cardboard box with some screen on top and some nearly vertical sticks inside the box, and checked at least weekly.

Just placing it uncontained in the shed, it could emerge and disappear into a cranny, not to be found until long dead. In a garage it is more likely to be observed often.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 23:33

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 11:22PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)


Very good advice. I had a couple of butterfly chrysalis that emerged in late fall. In the garage, I did keep an eye on them and was able release them. At least they got to spend some time flying before it got too cold.

I'm keeping my Luna moth cocoons in the garage. Further advice that I can give is just be careful to make sure your container that you store them in is mouse proof.


Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of my Luna moths

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 5:21PM
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jonijumpup(z5, GR MI)

Larry, how do you get pictures like that? Are the moths easy to handle or what. Jack

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 3:22PM
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Perhaps Mona/runmede, who posted the link to her photos, will answer.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 10:53PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

These are captive reared. Photos are easy to take just prior to them finally drying their wing. They are less active at this stage.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2013 at 11:17PM
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more than likely a polyphemus, maybe a luna. I raise moths and keep them in the garage. I bring the cocoons inside at the beginning of April to watch them hatch ( usually a couple of weeks after I bring them inside ).Works great ! Good luck. you will love the experience!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 5:13PM
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jonijumpup(z5, GR MI)

thanks for your comments. I will plan to do the same. I set up a nice box with a screen over top. will the moth need a lot of space to dry out or is it okay to leave some branches etc in the box with it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 8:29PM
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Here is a link that might be useful: Attract Butterflies To Your Garden

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:40PM
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jonijumpup(z5, GR MI)

Well, bad news. I kept it in the garage (part of our tri-level house), made a nice box for it with a screen over it, kept watching it, finally last week I took it out and put it outdoors, and in the morning I could not find it, wind or a critter hauled it away. I suspect it was not humid enough. If left outdoors where I found it in the yard, it would have been subject to snow and rain and who knows what else. Of course it might not have survived there either.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:04PM
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A viable cocoon will have a slight heft to it and absolutely no holes of any kind. If you have not handled cocoons before, you would have no sense of comparison, but if it seemed feather light, it was not viable. Nice try anyway.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:16PM
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jonijumpup(z5, GR MI)

thanks Larry. It had no holes in it, but the heft was a bit difficult to judge since it was attached to a large leaf. It was likely still viable.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:03AM
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