Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Lunas 2008

Posted by misssherry Z8/9MS (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 25, 08 at 17:02

Well, I guess I'll start another luna thread - hope y'all aren't tired of them!
I'll start with a picture of my mating lunas - the mint green female is on the left, and the yellowish green male is on the right -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Here's a picture of some of the eggs -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Here's the first three pictures of the hatchlings -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
I had to use the macro lens on my camera - you can't imagine how really tiny they are! If not for the first picture, I wouldn't know that they have a brown horizontal area across their head. I also notice tiny little cream-colored dots in the first picture - that's got to be oak pollen, which is EVERYWHERE!
I'm happy to report that even though the temperature got down to 32.6F degrees last night, nothing has been damaged. I brought the hatchlings and my RSP cat inside, plus many vulnerable plants. All the plants outside, including the tender new growth on the trees (and I'm especially interested in the sweetgum trees for the lunas) looks just the same as it did yesterday.
Sherry


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Lunas 2008

those look great!


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Miss Sherry,

What awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing. I love the Lunas and don't get to see them around here very often. Keep taking those photos so we can watch them grow.

Sandy

P.S. I was looking for a post entitled, "More Lunacy, 2008."


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

I agree, those are awesome pictures. I have learned alot today as I didn't know that their host was sweetgum and I can't recall ever seeing their caterpillar.

Miss Sherry, I did have a luna on my window Saturday night. He or see didn't look to be in very good shape though as I think one of my adopted cats may have torn one of his wings.

I have a love-hate relationship with the cats. I see a stray kitten, bring it home, it ALWAYS lives and turns out to be a hunter that preys on the creatures I adore; and did I mention that they love to turn my garden into a litterbox. That's when I forced to resort to the electric fence!!!

Keep us posted - I'm looking forward to seeing more pics soon!!! BUTTERFLUTTER


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Ditto on the kittens. I started feeding some stray kittens this winter and now I am wondering if I have created some monsters that will be after my butterflies. But what do you do? I can't turn away from little ones in need. Fortunately, my German Shepherd can and does so I can only go so far.

But Miss Sherry those photos are great. Wish we had the lunas out here.
Murray


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

I'm happy to report that after two whole days, the babies are about three times as big as they were when they hatched! Of course, three times the size of a pinhead isn't much, but this appears (knock on wood, salt over my shoulder!) to be a very healthy bunch. Maybe the fact that they come from two such different parents is why, I don't know.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Yay!! This is so exciting. I have to check everyday for the next installment.

Sandy


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Whew! They're wearing me out already, and they're still little! I spent several hours today bringing them fresh leaves, which I put in water picks I'd just cleaned, moving them to the big cage, attaching the water picks to the side of the cage, then going back in about two hours to refill the water picks - for whatever reason, whenever I first put a little twig of leaves in a water pick, it sucks up the water quickly at first. I couldn't handle all the poop they were putting on the plastic containers I had the water picks stuck in, and I'm pretty sure they're big enough that they can't crawl through the holes - besides, they don't appear to want to go anywhere, all they want to do is eat!!
I got this picture of one of them that was very near the cage door - you can see that they've now got little red things on their bumps -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

  • Posted by tdr4 MS Zone 9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 1, 08 at 22:17

Miss Sherry, I have looked at sweet gum trees to buy, but there are more than one kind. Which one is best for a host plant?


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Definitely get our native sweetgum, liquidambar styraciflua. There are Asian types, but I don't know if luna moths would thrive on them or lay eggs on them.
Nothing could be easier to grow than sweetgum!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Another one of the lunas that I raised last year emerged from its cocoon this afternoon. I saw him right after emerging, and he was the weirdest looking thing, all body and no wings, just little nubs sticking out from the upper part of his huge body! He was amazingly agile, though, running up the side of the cage until he got to the top of the cage, where he must have pumped fluid from his body into his wings, which must must have been imbedded somewhere. In just a little bit of time, his body was normal size, and his wings were all out and beautiful! His antennae are big and feathery. I guess I'll leave the door opened for him to leave tonight if he wants to, but it's raining now, and it's supposed to rain more later.
The cats are growing wonderfully - not even one has died. I'll post a picture of them later.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

I can't begin to count how many there are of the luna cats, but I've now got them in 3 cages, none of them small. I don't think it'd be exaggerating to say there are 100 of them! They're growing steadily -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008*

I checked my calender, and they all hatched on March 24th, making them 13 days old today.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Yesterday, another female luna emerged from her cocoon. I partially unzipped the cage when it got dark, leaving enough of an opening for a male to get in so they could have tea. :0
I couldn't sleep for wondering what was going on out there, so I got up at 12:30 and found her coupled with a male! I think it's amazing how males can find females via pheromones which we can't see or smell! I don't think this is the same male that I released the other day - this one has yellower tails - but maybe I'm wrong. I plan to just unzip the cage and let them both out this evening - they're still coupled - so that she can go and lay her eggs wherever she pleases. I can barely take care of all the luna cats I've already got - I'll be bringing in the leaves by the bushel pretty soon!
Anyway, here's a picture of the happy couple. You can see how much bigger his antennae are than hers - I took a top view picture, too -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Hi missherry,
Can't believe you're raising Lunas already! That wouldn't be possible here,as the trees have not leafed out yet.

Did the Regal pupae hatch yet?I had mine in the basement and one of them hatched in February :(


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

One of my regals emerged in the middle of winter, too, Dan, but I bought some more pupae, so I could still end up raising some. I also bought some polyphemus, promethea, imperial, and io moth cocoons, and I may have bought some cecropias, but I don't think so - my memory is shot! I just hope that my cecropias are male and female. All the ios have emerged, but they were all males, so I guess I have to hope there were some females out there. I'm also hoping that the others don't emerge until I get finished raising these lunas - they're wearing me out, hauling leaves, changing paper towels, cleaning containers, etc. etc.! I don't see how I could manage any more big moth cats! This is REALLY a healthy bunch, though, I haven't had a single death, and they're growing quickly for big moths - they're getting really fat now!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Oh no, it's just the beginning of April and you're wearing out. Hang in there! I love the pictures and it's exciting to think of all the Lunas you have coming along there. Would you ever consider setting a couple of the cats free in order to get a break?
I don't think I could do it, I would be too protective once they got going... some bird would probably come along and think you set up a breakfast buffet for them.
Keep up the good work!


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Thanks, kato b! I've thought about putting some of them on sweetgum trees, but then I'd lie awake at night worrying about them, so I'll just keep on keeping on!
Actually, it's good for me to raise big moths - they make me do lots of exercise!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Ooooooooohhhhhhhh, MissSherry - you know how much I love the moths. I think Sandy is becoming addicted now too after last year's bumper crop of them here (not silks, but interesting moths nonetheless). My Virginia Creeper is starting to leaf out nicely, so I will be looking for the sphinx moths very soon.

Did you find the lunas yourself, or did you order the eggs?

Susan


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Miss Sherry I have the same type of cage that you have and I noticed you said you left it open a little so the male could get in to her-the females don't leave from the little bit you leave open?

I am driving myself crazy wondering what type of cage to get so I could mate the Lunas when they hatch..but maybe I don't need to buy another cage...can you show me-when you have time-I don't want to be a bother-how much you leave it open?
This will be my first time with the big moths and I really want to do it right-I've been telling my daughter all season what were going to do but I'm afraid I'll do something wrong and they will all escape on me!

Aggie


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Sure, Aggie, I'll take a picture if you want me to, but I unzip the cage about ?10" or so. I'd read that females don't fly off from the place they emerged, and that must be true, because mine have stayed put, waiting for the males to come to them. My male flew out as soon as it got dark. Of course, the next night, if you leave the cage partially unzipped after they've been coupled for a full day, they both leave the cage - the female leaves to lay those eggs! If you want to raise some of the eggs yourself, but her in a big paper grocery bag, close the top, and she'll lay some eggs in the bag. Then you can cut out the clusters of eggs, and put them wherever you want them to hatch. I let my second female out to lay all her eggs on trees, because my first female left me with 116 eggs! I can't imagine how much they're going to be eating in the next few weeks, since they're now getting to the REAL big-eating size!
I think you can safely leave the cage door open, but I can't guarantee it, so you might want to get one of those cages with bars wide enough that they can mate through the cage, but not so wide she can leave.
I was willing to take the chance that my females might leave before mating, because I had plenty of cocoons, and I could get a new cage if the reptarian didn't work out, but it did, fortunately.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

I think I read that somewhere too-they don't go anywhere until they have mated..I have a few other cages to work with, ones I bought last year...I'll have to check them.

I am so excited for this..I can wait to see this...I know I'll be so worried and won't sleep-I already know I'll be one of those that keeps getting up and checking..I just can't wait to see one up close-I never have!

Did you ever see the videos at Insetnet.com? I've been watch them, they are so interesting! Its a man named Clark Thompson, he raises Moths and it is so interesting to see how he gets eggs and takes care of them-I'll leave the site for you..There are a few different types of videos all about moths. Have fun!

Aggie

Here is a link that might be useful: Insectnet.com-videos about Moths and eggs


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Interesting, Aggie!
The lunas are continuing to grow -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Cool, I'm still overwintering my Luna cocoons, cant wait till they hatch!

Here is a link that might be useful: Moths and Butterflies


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 17, 08 at 15:09

Up to your knees in frass yet Sherry?

Sometimes I feel like they've parasitized me... but in a good way.


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Yes, kwoods, I was up to my knees in frass alright! I had so many things to do at my house that I couldn't figure out what to do next! It was a full time job taking care of the lunas, the way they were eating and pooping, or is it frassing? Anyway, without going into all the boring details, I got real sick and was admitted to the hospital Tuesday, so I got my husband to arrange the cages where the caterpillars could crawl out onto sweetgum trees to finish out their life cycle. I sure hope they do okay! I wish I could have continued to raise them myself, but I just got home from the hospital yesterday, and my red admirals and American ladies are about all I can handle right now. My husband is against me raising caterpillars of any kind any more, but I convinced him that there's a lot of difference between 100+ long cycled silk moth cats and a few butterfly cats. I found some of the cats on the trees, so maybe I'll go out and make a picture of one of them.
I'm certainly glad I let the first female out to lay the rest of her eggs on trees herself, and I'm even gladder the second female was outside from the start!
I've still got quite a few luna cocoons from last year that haven't emerged yet, plus many other types of silk moth cocoons that I bought, so between those and the new ones that are apparently moving in to repopulate this area on their own, the moth population should be improving anyway.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

MissSherry, BTW, did you see that there is a new passi called "Sherry"?

Susan


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

No, Susan, but I'd like to see what it looks like!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Miss Sherry,

Sorry to hear about your illness, but I'm glad you're back home. I am sure a lot of those Lunas will make it and you will see all sorts of Luna Moths around your house in the evenings. You made an incredible effort!

Sandy


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Yes, MissSherry, hope this finds you feeling well after your hospital stay!

I just had a wisdom tooth pulled (nothing in comparison to what you've been thru). It's a bit sore today, but hopefully I can get out there and do some planting today to take my mind off of it.

I do so wish I would see some silks around here, but Oklahoma does not see very many. There have been sightings in southern Oklahoma of Cecropias, and a lady at work told me a few years ago that she had seen a lot of Lunas, but I have yet to see anything.

Susan


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Thanks y'all for the well wishes! Pulled wisdom teeth are no party either, Susan!
Another luna has emerged, and it's another female! Out of the 4 that have emerged so far this year, 3 have been gals!
I'll leave the cage door partially open again tonight - hopefully, she'll get some action, hehehe :) then I'll let them both out tomorrow night.
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

My female luna didn't get any takers last night. :(
Maybe she'll get lucky tonight! :) Hehehehe....
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Well, she didn't get any attention night before last, but she got 2 suitors last night! I don't know if the one on the porch came much later than her mate, or if they arrived about the same time, and a competition ensued - I was asleep.
Here's luna couple #3 -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The luna male may as well stick around, since another female is bound to emerge soon!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

MissSherry--Thank you for this amazing experience of watching these caterpillars and all of the Lunar escapades!

Hope you are feeling better!


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

You're welcome, bernergrrl, I really love those lunas!
I'm still weak, and I imagine it'll be a while before I'm back to my old self, but I'm continuing to put one foot in front of the other!
It's about time to go open the cage so they can leave, and the female can start laying those precious eggs!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

First time I've had a chance to get back to this posting. So sorry to hear you have been under the weather and hope you get perked up soon. I couldn't help but chuckle when you said that three out of four Lunas that had hatched were female. I just kept thinking - that's going to be one busy little male. I have so enjoyed the pictures and ongoing saga of the Lunas this spring. Just wish I could find some more here in OK.

Susan, I'm right there with you on the tooth pulling. I had a tooth pulled last fall. Fortunately, I was numbed up enough that I never felt it being pulled and had enough "drugs" afterwards that I still didn't hurt, but having had wisdom teeth pulled years ago, I remember that it wasn't a fun experience (except for the ice cream).

Both you ladies get better SOOOOON!!!!!!

Ms. Faith


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Haven't let it get me down (the tooth pulling), but trying to stay off the pain meds. Was hurtin pretty bad today, tho, so I took some and went ahead with putting in plants.

Love your lunas, MissSherry! Can't wait until moth season starts. I should be getting 8-spotted forester moths shortly, but I leave them on the vine after what you said about the complex pupation needs for them. I just can't believe how beautiful they are.

You know, I had a lot of moth cats last year, but not a SINGLE tomato or tobacco hornworm? I was shocked!

Susan


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

No tomato or tobacco hornworms, Susan? I might actually be glad for that situation so I could get a lot of tomatoes for once!
One of the promethea moth cocoons that I ordered from Bill Oehlke emerged yesterday - a male. Late in the afternoon, but long before dark, he started flying around frantically in the cage, so I let him out, and he actually managed to fly in the light! I guess he picked up the scent of a female somewhere. I don't think any of the big silk moths call until after dark, so maybe he picked up the lingering scent (brought on a breeze?) from one that called last night. My last female luna didn't get a suitor the first night she called, but then got two the second night! Or maybe prometheas are different, they start calling in the afternoon? Anybody know?
Anyway, I'm glad he's out doing his thing! He was quite a beauty!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Hey Sherry! Long time no speak. I still lurk around these forums even if I don't post as much these days. Can't do much butterfly/moth rearing at college hehe. Anyway to answer your question, I'm pretty sure Promethea's actually call in late afternoon, so it would make sense that the make was "in the mood" to say the least around that time. Anyway, I read you have been under the weather lately, so please get well soon!


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Thanks, Irishguy! It's good to hear from you again - 'hope college is going well.
I looked up promethea moths in my Covell's field guide, and he says, "Mating occurs in afternoon to early evening.."
Interesting!
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Miss Sherry,

You and your afternoon trysts. This forum is going to have to be rated R. Hehe. I'm lovin' it!

Sandy


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Hehehe!
I was lying down taking a rest, looking out the window at the moth cage, when I saw another luna moth crawl up the side of the cage, all body, with only stubs for wings. It was amazing to watch as the wings lengthened! I just went out to check the sex, and it's yet another female!
Does anybody know how the sex of moths is determined? Is it chromosomes, or could they be like alligators, where the sex is determined by the conditions they're in as eggs? Maybe there's something about my raising technique that promotes females? I ask this, because the cocoons I order or the ones that people have sent me through the mail have been almost entirely male. Maybe people who sell them for a living keep most of their females for their eggs, so they can raise more and send their clients the leftover males?
I dunno, but this is getting funny! Looks like it's going to be another interesting night - the reptarian cage that the cocoons are in is a real cat(erpillar) house! :)
Sherry


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

"Miss Sherry's Cat House." Now that sounds like something right out of the old west. It's beginning to sound like you are running a brothel there in southern Miss. Is that legal?

Sandy


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

MissSherry, I only know that we can determine the sex of the moth from examination of the naked cocoon. Now what determines sex genetically? Don't have a clue.

It makes sense that there are more females than males out there. Guess it only takes one male to service a gaggle of female moths, huh?

My moth book suggests that certain moths exude pheromones at certain times during the day (or night). Just depends on the species.

Susan


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Well, we emailed the CO extension agency last year about this exact question, as I had 14 BSTs and only 3 of them were females. They were saying that it was determined when the eggs were fertilized. Since then, as I have researched and learned more, I can support this with what I've learned. It is determined as soon as the sperm combines with the egg cell by the chromosomes. I was just thinking one thing, but looking on the most helpful website I found, I found that the situation in butterflies is reversed from humans. Given that they already have it written out, I'll let them explain it. This site says:

Sex is determined, in both humans and Lepidoptera, by sex chromosomes called the X & Y chromosomes. In humans, an individual that is male will have X & Y chromosomes, whereas a female will have two X chromosomes. In Lepidoptera, the situation is reversed -- XX is male and XY (or simply one X and no Y) is female. I should point out that it is the number of X's that is important. In Lepidoptera, an individual with just one X (and no Y) is going to be female. Any individual with two (or more) X's will be male.

When cells divide, one complete copy of all the genetic information (DNA) is passed to both cells, or, in other words, before the division there are two complete copies of DNA in each of the chromosomes, which are attached to each other before division. These two copies of the DNA in each chromosome are then separated during cell division. Occasionally, the two copies of a particular chromosome do not detach from each other during cell division (called non-disjunction), and the end result is that one of the cells will end up missing an entire chromosome, which is typically lethal to the cell. The other cell (that gets the unseparated chromosome) may be unaffected, or normal, though problems can occur in this cell as well.

However, if a non-disjunction occurs in an X chromosome in an individual that is XX (male in butterflies/moths), that would mean that one of the cells in this division would end up with one X chromosome, while the other would end up with two (or three) X's. In other words, one of the resulting cells (and all cells that came from that cell) would be female, while the other cell (and its descendents) would be male.

So, if you have a non-disjunction in an X chromosome in an XX individual during the first division of the zygote, then you will end up with an individual that appears half male (on one side) and half female (on the other side). This is called a bilateral gynandromorph. The non-disjunction can occur during later divisions, however, giving you a smaller portion of the body/wings that looks like one sex and a larger portion that looks like another. It can even happen more than once during development, so that you end up with patches of female and male scattered around on the individual, resulting in what is called a mosaic (see second Tiger Swallowtail, below). VERY bizarre!

Before I saw this site, I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as a mosaic individual. It sure is nice having the web at times...

While thinking about this, I also realized another interesting fact. I realized that when a BF egg is first laid, it is 1 cell! After all, when a male and a female gamete combine, you end up with 1 cell that then divides into others. Since BF eggs are fertilized virtually as they are laid, that means that the BF egg you see at first is a single, extremely large cell! I mean, that is one giant cell (compared to most, at least)!

-Jmcat


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

Very interesting, Jmcat. Thanks for the info. I'm going to have to visit the site to see the pics. It seems there is more strange in nature than we realize.

Sandy


 o
RE: Lunas 2008

The world is a strange place.... sure keeps things interesting.
Hope everyone is well on their way to a full and speedy recovery!


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here