Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum

 o
Luna Moth Caterpillars

Posted by misssherry Z8/9MS (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 9, 07 at 13:48

I was fortunate enough to acquire some luna moth eggs from a very kind Butterfly Forum member in the northeast to help me to re-establish lunas in this area. I'm feeding them sweetgum and black gum leaves - these are both known to be host plants for lunas, and there is plenty of it on my property, including new growth, not just old growth that's been on the trees since February or March and is old and not looking good. I put the leaves through holes I punched in the tops of leftovers containers that I had filled with water, and put the two containers in the middle of my real big cage. I haven't counted them yet, but I should be able to do so soon. They're getting big enough that they won't be able to slip through the mesh covering on the cage, so I think I can start using water picks to hold their leaves pretty soon - I attach the water picks to the sides of the cage. That'll be good in another way - they'll be farther apart and not likely to bother each other.
I got this picture of a cat that had just molted. I don't know what instar this is - first? second? Anyway, they're doing very well, eating, pooping, and growing nicely!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
MissSherry


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Wow, what a cool cat!

OK Sandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Ah, I miss raising the big silk moths...keep us posted!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

MissSherry,
That's a neat picture! I wish I'd have the chance to raise a few someday. Last evening my daughter said a Luna moth was banging on her bedroom screen, so she let it in so we could look at it awhile. They are just beautiful! That was the first one I saw in many years. I'll post a picture on the forum when she finds the time to put them onto her computer and email them to me. Congrats on being able to raise some of these lovely cats!
Cathy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

That is really cool, thanks for posting!
I would love to raise a few of them up here in Pa but I'm afraid the gypsy moth spray campaigns would just wipe them all out.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 9, 07 at 21:59

Nice fat little green baby you have there. ;o)


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehehe! Yes, the babies are fat, Kenneth!
I moved the host plants with the cats on them to water picks. They've all migrated over to the sweetgum, so I guess sweetgum it will be!
I'll keep you posted, with more pictures, of course! :)
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I always raise mine on sweetgum too. It seems to be their favorite. My brother found a torn and dying female Luna at work and brought her home. She was dead by the morning but left 5 eggs for him to raise.
~ Judy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Cathy, next time you find one, put it in a paper bag to see if it will lay eggs for you. You can then cut around the eggs and put them on host plant leaves to see if they'll hatch for you - if you have a host plant for them. I found this information - White birch is the favored host plant in the North. Black walnut, butternut, hickory, persimmon, sweetgum, alder, beech, willow, wild cherry or sumac may be chosen in other locations.

I don't know how you tell the male from the female, but if you don't get any eggs, it's probably male.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 10, 07 at 15:24

"I don't know how you tell the male from the female"

Antennae, the males need to pick up the pheramone trail so theirs are more impressive. Females just call, sit still looking pretty and wait for their suitors to arrive. Females are also usually more plump but the antennae are a dead giveaway.

This page shows a comparison but I actually find the difference more striking than shown in the photos.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

This evening I went down into the woods where I put the little ptelea trifoliatas that I grew from seed - I had "hidden" them from the giant swallowtails so they wouldn't get any more eggs laid on them, and they could grow, unchewed. Well, a GST found them, and laid 4 eggs, so I went down to get the little cats. On the way down the path I noticed copious amounts of large frass - not as big as 5th instar regal moth frass, but big - underneath a group of sweetgum trees. I looked upward and couldn't see any caterpillars, but it's unmistakably cat frass. Wouldn't it be funny if there were luna moth cats up there? This is the third time recently I've found big frass under sweetgum trees!
The cats are eating more and growing faster than either the regals or prometheas I recently raised - I'm really enjoying them!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Sherry, it would be a little ironic if you went through all that trouble to get the Luna eggs and found that they were already there on your property!

It's like ordering plantain or nettle plants and paying for them, only to find you had a free patch in your backyard that you didn't recognize. Hehe.

Even so, if you find 'native" lunas on your property, and also have your "imports", you'll be doubly blessed.

Maryann


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yes, Maryann, after I imported RAs from Florida and Ohio, I started getting eggs and cats on my false nettles for the first time, so it certainly helped out the RA situation.
I saw lunas fairly often before the hurricane - along with imperial moths, they were the most plentiful of the big moths, so they may very well have come back.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

It's kind of like adopting a baby and then finding out you're pregnant two weeks later! Heehee!

Congrats on your lunas, Misssherry - we all have to be a little luna to be on this forum, doncha think?

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Good one Susan! That was cute..I love the Luna Miss Sherry very cute cats. They get to be really big and fat don't they?
I finally got to see one of these down at the butterfly house we visited. I couldn't help but comment about how small they were. I thought they were bigger-well I guess the lady didn't like my question she got kinda snippy with me and said well most of the time their bigger! These are small for some reason! Well ok, sorry didn't mean to question the size of your Luna's! HeHe..

Aggie


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehehe! It IS sort of like adopting a baby and finding out you're pregnant, Susan! Except I don't know what type of big moth is in those sweetgum trees. Moths are relative generalists, and lunas aren't the only ones that use sweetgum - since the sweetgums are still growing a little and the leaves are, for the most part, looking good, there could be most any type of moth cat there.
My luna babies are growing so fast, they must think they're gulf frits! Well, not quite that fast! :)
I'll post another picture soon -wish I could get them on a ruler!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hi, was just visiting this forum when i saw your thread on Luna moths. They are beautiful creatures and now i know why we have so many here on our mountain, we have all the trees they like except birch. Thanks for the info. Nice forum.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

We found a dead Luna last week - the first Luna I have seen in close to forty years in NJ. I'm going to have to look for live ones and cats now!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I recently rescued a beautiful Luna moth that was tangled in a spider web. I cleaned off the web from it's feet and while it rested - it allowed me to take these photos and then he/she soared up into the trees - Happy to Be!! I've never seen one before except in pictures, so it was a real pleasure for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Luna Moth


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Suzannie41,

I enjoyed the pictures in your album. Thought you might like to know that pic #16 is a Spicebush Swallowtail, a very nice looking one.
Your Luna shots were great.

OKSandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 9:58

Misssherry, I don't know if the lunas you have now will go into winter diapause, I assume they will. In spring cage one of the calling females for a couple of nights outdoors and you will know how many wild males are in the area.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I've been thinking about that, Kenneth. Do you have a cage to keep your females in so that they can mate through the cage with a male? Some people on this forum have done that, and then put the female in a paper bag where she lays some eggs that they then raise. The mesh covering on my cat raising cages is much too fine for that to happen. I'd buy one if I knew where to order one - anybody know where I can order such a cage? If somebody wants to make me one, I'll pay for it.
I counted 10 luna cats yesterday - a few of them died as hatchlings. I held a ruler up to one of them, and it was a little over an inch long - 2 of them are smaller, I don't know why the little ones are litte, maybe they're the ones that ate black gum originally, but they're growing good now. Here's a picture I took this morning of them inside their big cage - I can see 6 in this picture -
Image
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 12:29

Well.... my mating cages are pretty high-tech gadgets. I use an inverted plastic laundry basket (sans laundry). The mesh/holes are a size that the females can't get out but the males have enough access. I actually found a rather small version of the same thing at Target.... works great.


 o
Saturniids

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 14, 07 at 12:37

Oh! But, if I want to count males I put the female in a fine mesh rearing cage where the males can't have any access. They just ke-ep coming. This is especially fun for kids if you have promethea moths because they call from around 3:30pm 'til around 6pm. It's not unusual to get 30 males swarming around.

Lunas call for me here at around midnight.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehehe!! I think I can manage that state of the art mating cage you've got there, Kenneth! I have an extra one in my laundry room. :)
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

What eye candy photos. Incredible!

I'm so happy your raising Lunas. I seen them for the first time at the Bellagio hotel conservatory in Las Vegas. I was in awe. They are so beautiful in real life and such a brilliant green, also a very large moth.

Edna


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Have you seen Bill Oehikew's site ? He sells eggs and cocoons for many of the big moths and has lots of info on caring for cats, etc.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yes, I joined his organization, Birkie. I'll be ordering cocoons this fall to overwinter, and eggs whenever he has them available. I'd like to raise some of all the types of big moths we had before the hurricane that we don't have now.
The lunas are eating real good and pooping so much I have to change the paper towels in their cage daily even though it's big and there's plenty of surface for poop. They're growing at a steady pace - I'll take another picture of them when they get a little bigger.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

It's been 5 whole days since I made their picture, so I just had to get my camera out! I decided to make a picture of just one, so you could see its beautiful fact up close :) -
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yuck!

Only a mother could love that mug! It's hard to believe it will turn into one of the most beautiful moths.

Thanks for sharing,MissSherry.

OKSandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehe! Their faces are gross, aren't they?
I noticed in my previous post that I spelled face F-A-C-T! DUH!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I think he's kind of cute!
(in a cuddly green way)


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Absolutely gorgeous, IMHO! Guess you have to be a moth lover to appreciate them totally. I am definitely a moth lover.

My Walnut sphinx has gone to ground to pupate, and the two Snowberry Clearwings should go soon. They are real fatties for Snowberrys, which is unusual for them to be this large. They really chow down on the honeysuckle foliage.

I'd love to have some silks, but maybe one day!

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Well, every morning after I gasp at the stripped branches in my big luna cage, I go out and gather up fresh branches of sweetgum - I put them in a bucket of water and wash them before I give them to the cats. Then, in the evening after they've thinned their sweetgum 'forest' I go back out and gather more. Sweetgum has been a great host plant since there's so much of it on my property - it's not hard to find a lot of tender, fairly young, good-looking leaves. When I get up the next morning, they make me gasp again! I'm always amazed at how much they've eaten! :)
I held a ruler up to some of the cats, and they're between 2 1/4" and 2 1/2" long and VERY fat! I read on the Oehlke site that they get to be 3 1/2" long before they're ready to make their cocoon. Can anybody who has raised them before verify this? Do they do a big bowel emptying before this happens that I can't miss? I cut and washed an American beautyberry branch and put it in a water pick in the cage with the luna cats. Its big, soft leaves make a good place for a cocoon - the prometheas used it. It's probably too soon for cocooning, though - any thoughts?
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I did 130+ first brood this year. Haven't counted second brood yet but I have a heavy bag of cocoons and around 15 caterpillars.

For me, the 3.5" caterpillar was rare this year. 2.5" - 3" was the norm.

As for the bowel emptying, it definitely happens and it is a noticeable mess. OTOH, I question whether every luna does it since I seem to have more cocoons than noticeable messes ;)

Putting in non-food plants for cocooning sounds like a great idea because lunas don't care whether their sibling is using a sweetgum leaf for a cocoon. No clue what your setup looks like so I'll recommend that you have some leaves on the bottom of your cage. This is because, in my experience, a luna looking for a place to pupate will not climb up anything once it has decided to descend to the ground.

If you find a full size luna laying on its side and barely able to move, don't fret. Just put it aside in a smooth bottom container and it will pupate without a cocoon.

If you have read what Oehlke says about overwintering luna caterpillars changing color just prior to making a cocoon, take it with a big grain of salt. This is the first year I tested the theory. Every first brood amber caterpillar I had eclosed right in step with their green siblings. Last year, out of 200+ first brood cocoons, I had 20 that overwintered. Wish I had kept track of their color but I hadn't heard about the color change theory back then.

KC


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks for all of the great information and pictures!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks KC!
I was just going to post about how 4 of the luna cats have turned an odd pinkish/yellowish color and are wandering aimlessly around the cage. I put in some soft beautyberry leaves, but at least one of them seems more interested in the paper towels on the bottom of the cage. Nobody has emptied their bowels yet. Some of them are still eating, the younger, smaller ones, I guess. I'd say 3" is about as long as any of mine have gotten, but they're EXTREMELY fat - they look like stuffed sausages!
Since I read your post, I pulled off some of the leaves and dropped them on the floor of the cage - thanks again!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars*

I checked on them again, and at least one of them had some loose bowels, right on the leftovers container with the sweetgum branches stuck in it - it's not the full fledged mess that some butterfly cats make, like pipevine swallowtails. One of them is between a beautyberry leaf and the paper towel it's on - I'll be glad when this phase of luna rearing is done, and they've made their cocoons!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I don't think lunas and papertowels should be near each other. A few years ago, I met a woman that raised lunas. She gave me some cocoons, all of which had pieces of papertowel attached. (just had to quit typing and investigate what my cat was looking at - there was a small snake in my basement - that was a first - let it go outside - back to lunas) The cocoons were all duds. I eventually opened all of them up to see what happened. The moths had all emerged but could not break through the papertowel and they were not smart enough to try a different way out. My guess is the majority of her cocoons worked out but I shoot for 100% so no papertowels for my lunas.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Oh my! It's too late now! One of them has cocooned with paper towels on both sides, and the others got under a leaf, but instead of cocooning within the leaf, they cocooned with the leaf on one side and a paper towel on the other! Hopefully, they'll be able to get out of the leaf side.
I'll put a big mulch of leaves on the cage floor. For what it's worth, I received some luna cocoons in the mail several years ago that were in paper towels. and they all got out. They make it plain when they're ready to emerge by rattling around loudly, as I'm sure you know - if any have problems, I'll try to help them get out.
MissSherry
P.S. What amazing things interrupt us! I live out in the woods, but I've never had snakes in the house! :) Of course, I don't have a basement, and my house is 3' off the ground.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I wonder if you can remove some of the paper toweling after they complete pupation?? Last year, when I used the paper towels for my clearwing sphinx moths, after they formed their cocoon (and I realize their cocoon is the hardened "shell" and not the gathering of forest materials like the silks), I opened up the pockets of the paper towel around the cocoons and took them out. I just left them bare in the fridge, and then bare on the porch in spring when I took them outside. They pupated just fine.

When the sphinx use paper towels, they make a little "pocket" inside the paper towels so that the cocoon is held within that pocket, albeit the cocoon itself is a harder shell. Anyway, I thought maybe you could just try to remove as much of the towel as possible so they won't have a difficult time emerging when the time is right.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I thought about that, Susan. I think once I'm sure that they've completed the process, I'll do just that. Thanks!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 28, 07 at 9:54

Yours appear to be a week or two ahead of mine Misssherry.

You can actually remove the pupa from the cocoon if you feel like you need to. I use small, blunt tipped surgical scissors. I do this with my IOs and I'll probably do it with some of my Cecropias this year after having two fail to emerge this spring in exactly the way KC describes, fully formed but unable to find their way out. A few of the Cecropias made cocoons on top of one another. The IOs always seem to go to the bottom of their rearing sleeve and inevitably incorporate some frass in their cocoons.

My lunas usually make their cocoons in the fabric of their rearing sleeve. They are easy to peel off the fabric.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks, Kenneth! Another cat is wandering around like it's ready to pupate. When they're all done, I'll at least use some blunt tipped scissors and cut the paper towel side away in lots of places. I'll be very careful to cut shallowly, if that's a word - I sure don't want to cut into the pupae itself! I don't want to do it until I'm sure they've all hardened, so I'll probably wait longer to free up the last pupators - I assume they're just liquid right after pupating, like butterflies. My promethea cats used the hanging beautyberry branches - you can see the valve on top. I wish lunas did it that way!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 28, 07 at 12:07

"I wish lunas did it that way!"

Yes, prometheas make it easy. My favorite cocoons are Polyphemus. They are oval, white and fuzzy, they look like what a silk moth's cocoon "should" look like.

FYI, Moth Catcher by Michael Collins is coming out in paperback on Saturday.

This is a great book but not a "moth guide" or even really so much a moth book per se. More a biography. It gives an insight into what it's like to be a field biologist that studies silk moths. I loved reading it and thought you might find it interesting for fall or winter reading.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

So you liked it? Well, then maybe I'll order it. Amazon.com notified me that it was available, but, like you say, it didn't sound like much of a moth guide - still, I bet I'd like it, too.
So it's settled, I'll order it.
The one that started pupating this morning has got both it's sides attached to leaves - YAY!!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 28, 07 at 16:02

You're doing great with them! Little packages that contain a promise of spring.

I got the same email which made me think of it. I probably would have enjoyed it more at the paperback price ;o). It was very good for me but I like books about naturalists and nature writing that shows a reverance for it's subject matter (Self-Portrait with Turtles, Beautiful Swimmers, Sand County Almanac etc.). I liked Chrysalis too which is about Maria Merian.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I got a shock today. My son informed me that I had luna moths. Checked and found I had two males. Hopefully, they are the only confused ones and the rest will stay in their cocoons.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Have you all read John Himmelman's book, Nighttime Jewels of the Garden? He gives a lot of great info on rearing moths. I also have Villiard's book as well. It is out of print, but I found it at Abe Books. The photos are B&W, but he gives a lot of great info on whether or not certain moths can tolerate crowding or not, fresh food versus stale, caterpillar habits and behavior. It was recommended to me by a lepidopterist at one of the colleges here.

Still, I'm crazy about Himmelman's book. Check out his website, too. He's raised lots and lots of the silks and provides a wonderful history of some of the original lepis. A colorful bunch they were! Not so many photos, but packed with helpful info and great, funny stories about his moth hunting.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I've got his book Discovering Moths, Susan, but I didn't know he had written another one. You know I'll have to get that one, too!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars*

I just looked it up, and it's the same book - Discovering Moths, Nighttime Jewels of the Garden. The book has a long title!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 29, 07 at 9:48

"Hopefully, they are the only confused ones and the rest will stay in their cocoons."

I'm sure there are some confused females out there somewhere calling your males as well. I had a bunch of IOs do the same thing in September last year.

How many weeks did your Lunas take before pupating Misssherry? They are faster than mine. Enough time for a third brood before leaf-fall?

Susan, yes, the Himmelman book is a must have and I too refer back to it often. Perhaps a thread on "must have" or even just interesting moth books? There aren't enough IMO. Or, is it already in the faq?


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Kwoods - I totally agree about the lack of books. I think most people think of the common "clothes moths" and those "lbjs" (little brown jobs) when they think of moths, and don't realize what a fascinating insect moths really are. They outnumber butterflies 14:1. I agree, most are nondescript, but I have found something interesting in even the least attractive, if I look closely at them.

Moths are becoming a passion for me. I hope I get the silks one day, but for now, the sphinx are all I can handle (or perhaps they handle me?).

I have found that Bill Oelke, John Himmelman, and the folks at Bug Guide and What's That Bug will respond to e-mail questions in regard to moths as well. Maryann in Connecticut is fortunate enough to be acquainted with John since he was one of the originators of the Connecticut Lepidopterist Society.

Didn't you find the section on the early moth-ers fascinating and humerous? They were quite the characters.

I don't want to leave out John Nelson here in Oklahoma, who over the last several years has been establishing and has now produced a list of moths found in Oklahoma. It is very extensive and he has a database. Most fascinating is the fact that there previously had been few sightings of catacolas in Oklahoma, and I believe he has now recorded 30-40 species. Since Bill Oehlke has extended his website to include catacolas from the various states, John's research and data was extremely helpful to Bill as well.

The few books that exist with information on moths are very old books, e.g. Villiard, Covell, etc. Some books are commingled with butterflies like Caterpillars of Eastern Forests. I've yet to acquire this one. I got the Villiard book for about $7 as a second hand purchase, but that's just fine with me. I would also like Covell's.

I use a lot of web-based data, too, particularly from Oehlke's website, since he includes a lot of info in raising moths, where to find caterpillars and their habits. That's how I ID'd my Nessus sphinx larvae. They rest in the upper stems of the vine during the day and come down to feed on the lower stems at night. I'd never found any eumorphas in that location, so my instincts told me this was a different genus/species. Net research confirmed it as did John Himmelman in his response to my e-mail.

I'm hip for including moth books - I think we may have a few on our reading list, but I haven't checked it in awhile.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Kenneth, I think the eggs hatched on the first few days in August wasn't it? That would mean it took them 4 weeks to go through their instars and pupate - is that about normal?
There's plenty of time left to raise more luna cats, so if these emerge quickly and mate and I get eggs, I could raise another batch - the next batch would undoubtedly overwinter. I say this, because the sweetgum trees are still making some new growth, and it hasn't been hard for me to find nice looking, unblemished leaves for the cats. We don't usually get a freeze until December, although the weather cools down a good bit in October, at least it usually does.
I very gently peeled the paper toweling off the two ends of the cocoons. They're egg shaped, and I assume the moths will emerge from one of the ends? There was no need to use scissors, which I preferred not to do.
I need to go out and clean my extra laundry hamper, just in case! :)
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hello all -

I found a caterpillar in my yard that I identified as a luna moth caterpillar (using the internet). I put it in a jar with various leaves and twigs and in ONE day it made its cocoon! My QUESTION is - how do I store the cocoon? It made the cocoon close to the side of the jar (attached to twig, wrapped in leaves) and I guess it got a little moist and developed a tiny bit of mold. I moved the cocoon away from the side a bit, but should I move the cocoon to something else - more airy? Or less airy? I read somewhere else that it should be buried in layers of earth in a small container. Also, I have it in a room under indirect light. Is this correct, or should it be in relative darkness? HELP! THANKS!!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

It definitely needs to be in an airy place so it won't mold, which could be deadly. Luna moths make cocoons, and do not go underground - certain other types of moths DO go underground, but not lunas.
Hopefully, somebody else will see your post and expand on my answer, since I'm something of a newbie with lunas myself.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 30, 07 at 10:29

"I would also like Covell's"

Susan, Bio-equip includes it in their catalog among the many fantastic lep books they carry. I think it was around 40 bucks and the catalog is online.... they'll send out their big print catalog but I think you now have to pay for it. Might still be able to get it from the Viginia Museum of Natural History which republished it as well.

"I assume the moths will emerge from one of the ends?"
Yep. I hope you do get a third brood!

Christina, luna cocoons are found in the leaf litter so they aren't particularly delicate when it comes to conditions. The humidity in a closed jar won't do them any favors though. Don't let them dry out and get dessicated and don't let them get and stay too wet or damp. I have mine outdoors on the front porch, they sit in a little wooden box with a screen top.... through the winter if need be. Good luck with yours!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Well, I can't believe it!! I was on the waiting list at Amazon.com for the classic Covell moth field guide for over a year, and they finally e-mailed me that they wouldn't be able to fill my order. The VA museum didn't appear to have it anymore, or maybe I just couldn't navigate their convoluted web site, I don't know. Anyway, I've been wanting the reprint for ages, and if I'd known I could order it elsewhere, I would have! Thank you, thank you, Kenneth for telling us about Bioquip - I ordered the book and bookmarked their website.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 30, 07 at 12:57

Bioquip... that's the one! They have a lot of lep books I drool over. Glad I could be of help and the Covell guide is certainly another "must have".

Just noticed Butterflies of the East Coast is in paperback now.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Abe Books has sources for the Covell book as well, MissSherry. They are not inexpensive, but I'm sure this book is packed with info. I'm gonna have to save up my $ for this one.

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Covell Field Guide


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I can't wait to get my Covell book!
The smallest of the lunas continued to eat, got full sized, and has now made its cocoon - fortunately, it only used leaves!
I'll miss the buggers! I've been cleaning the big cage this afternoon - it looks so empty! :(
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hello!

I was searching the internet for info on Luna's and luckily stumbled onto this forum!

On Aug 29 we discovered a Luna Caterpillar in a small oak tree in our yard! We had no idea what this strange creature was. A quick internet search revealed it to be a Luna Caterpillar. We have been very interested in it. We "check" on it 2 and 3 times a day! :) We decided it was in its fourth or fifth instar. This morning we found that it had spun its cocoon!!

The info I found on wikipedia said it stays in the cocoon up to two weeks. Does this sound about right? We live in NE Alabama. We so badly want to witness it emerge from the cocoon. Is there any signs we should look for to know it is close to time? Thank you for any information you could provide!!
-Kathy

Below is a link to some photos I have taken of our Luna!

Here is a link that might be useful: Luna Pics


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by sandwhy z5, Evanston IL (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 3, 07 at 18:01

Gorgeous photos, MissSherry!

(I'm on the side that thinks they're kinda cute)

:)

Sandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Me too, Sandy!
Kathy, this is my first time to raise lunas myself, so I don't know how long it'll take for them to emerge - they may overwinter and not emerge until next spring. Somebody gave me some cocoons a few years ago, and right before they emerged, they rattled around furiously inside their cocoon.
Maybe Kenneth or others will see this post and give you some more info.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Oh wow - next spring? I hope not - I'm too impatient to wait that long! :) Also, that means I'll probably never be able to catch it emerging unless someone can tell me if they always emerge in the same particular time of the year?

I am so amazed by this creature. This morning when the cocoon was brand new it was very thin and brown in color. This evening it was much thicker looking and white. I took another picture of course and added it to the Luna Pics link on my previous post.

Thanks for your reply!!!
-Kathy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Kathy, I actually believe you have a Polyphemus moth caterpillar, not a Luna. The caterpillars do look very similar to each other, but the orange dots make me believe it is a Polyphemus, another of the big and beautiful silk moths.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 4, 07 at 11:53

I agree w/ Irishguy, that's a polyphemus. Polyphemus are at least as cool. In Alabama it looks like they have two broods and your's should overwinter and emerge in late April early May. Or, so it says on this Auburn webpage.

Here's a pic of some lunas and a poly I released this summer.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Love your picture, Kenneth. Both moths are absolutely wonderful. It's a special treat to get to watch them go from cat to adult.

OKSandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

When I was cleaning the cages this morning I had to pick up the cocoons to move them while I took out the old paper, and three of them rattled around in the cocoon! Does that mean they'll be emerging this evening? I can't remember whether the other cocoons I had emerged the first day after rattling or later. I'm so excited! I set my camera out by the cage! :)
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

OMG - we expect some images soon, MissSherry, 3:00 a.m. or not! LOL!

Kenneth, your photo is lovely. They are just such beautiful adults, and fascinating caterpillars. I know they don't nectar as adults and survive on what they ate as a caterpillar, but I was surprised to find when browsing the net the other day that there are also some sphinx that do not nectar as adults either. Learn sumpin' new ever day, doncha?

Kathy, congrats, congrats, congrats on your moths, too! Geez, one of these days I may get lucky enough to find some eggs and/or cats. Right now, it's just the sphinx I find. I have heard folks say they see the Lunas flying around at night here, though, so I know we get them at least.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Oh wow! A Polyphemus! Yes, just as beautiful! I love the photo with both the lunas and the poly! This is all so interesting to me! Thank you for the info. Although I am disappointed I have to wait until Spring!! Do you think I should just leave it alone and let nature take its course? I read where you can wrap it in bridal veil material to help protect it - would that be a good idea? It said sometimes they can drop off of the limb they are on over winter. I'll be so sad if something happens to it!

MissSherry, I'm sorry I've hijacked your thread. I hope you don't mind! I'm looking forward to seeing your next photos!

-Kathy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Kathy, you haven't hijacked this thread, I love those polys, too - I hope to raise some in the near future! Keep us posted about it on this thread.
I can't quit looking at the cocoons, and now all of them are rattling!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 4, 07 at 15:51

Kathy, you could leave it, protect it where it is with a sleeve or put it in a protected spot or enclosure. If it emerges as a female you will have the opportunity to mate it with a wild male and raise more next year.

Sounds like you will get a third brood Misssherry. Congrats! You're way ahead of me. My second brood are now huge but haven't even pupated yet.

I've had cocoons squirm around for a couple of days before emerging. Keep us posted.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks, Kenneth for that information! I thought I remembered the other lunas rattling off and on for several days before they emerged.
I made a video of the cocoon "dancing" but can't figure out how to put it on Photobucket - if I can figure out how to do it, I'll post it.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars*

It's very amateurish, but it's my first video! :)
MissSherry

Here is a link that might be useful: Luna Rock-n-Roll


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

MissSherry,
I am totally blown away by your video. That was absolutely great. Now, can you come to my house and show me how to post on Photobucket, pleeeeeeeeez?

OKSandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

How cool, MissSherry! They do rock and roll! And that means they're getting ready to emerge?

You probably have more generations of these moths along the gulf coast of Mississippi than others do.

Kathy, wow, I'd put it in something that you can leave outside or in a cold room indoors. They will need the cold to overwinter successfully. If you bring them indoors, they'll emerge too soon due to the warmer indoor temps. I'm envious, girl!!!!

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Sandy, I'll help you any way I can with posting on Photobucket!
Yes, Susan, I think there are normally quite a few generations of lunas down here.
I'm going to try and improve on my video taking - maybe I can do one of a butterfly nectaring or something.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Normally I'm just lurking around here, but I wanted to say the video is cool!

""I've had cocoons squirm around for a couple of days before emerging""
I hope they don't do that, the suspense would kill me!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Kenneth, I didn't mention how much I love your Buddha and moths picture - cool!
Thanks, kato - I had fun making that video!
Something just occurred to me last night. You know how gulf frit chrysalids swing back and forth (especially when you touch them) and American ladies and other vanessas jiggle/shimmy? That's undoubtedly what's happening with these luna cocoons - there's a pupa inside the cocoon that's acting like a gulf frit/vanessa butterfly chrysalis - DUH!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yes, rather than the naked pupas that sphinx and other moths make, that is just a protective covering the silks (not all silks, and surely other moth cats) spin to cover the pupa. I think I found that out on Bill Oehlke's website. I've probably read it somewhere, but who can remember everything they read? Not me.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks for the info everyone!!

Thanks MissSherry, I'm so glad to have found this thread!

I have a question. On the moths that don't overwinter what is the normal amount of time they spend in the cocoon before emerging?

Is it possible/normal to hear movement in the cocoon at this point (it just made the cocoon sunday night/monday morning). I swear I saw it move yesterday and heard a rustling noise. Maybe I imagined it - the wind could have moved it and the noise was something else? Are they awake in there or in a type of hibernation? (Sorry if these are dumb questions - this is VERY new to me!)

If I protect it where it is should I go ahead and do that now? Or is waiting until the leaves fall ok?

You know, it makes so much more sense that it is a polyphemus now that I have learned all of this. I kept noticing that everything I had read about Luna did not include oak as a preferred host whereas the Polyphemus DOES prefer oak!! Gosh, I'm SO excited- I can't wait to see it!

One last (dumb) question! What is the proper pronunciation of polyphemus? Poly-fee-mus or Paul-if-uh-mus? .....please don't laugh at me...LOL..!! :)

-Kathy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I wish I knew the answers to your questions, Kathy, but this is all new to me, too! I don't know from day to day if a moth is going to emerge from my cocoons or if they're going to overwinter - you wouldn't think that cocoons that move like these do would overwinter, but they might. Mine didn't move right after they cocooned - it took about a ?week or more before that happened. Hopefully, Kenneth will post and give you better answers.
My encyclopedia and dictionary show the pronunciation of it as being pahl ih FEE mus, which is the way I've been pronouncing it - I'm glad I'm saying it right!
By the way, I got my Corvell field guide yesterday, and I thumbed through it last night - it's great!
The cocoons are still just cocoons, but if eyeballing them makes them emerge/eclose, then it's gotta happen soon!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by ladobe 8b NV - 11 HI (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 7, 07 at 14:39

misssherry -
Since the main controlling factors all through most species of a leps life history is photo period, temperature and moisture (with photo period the biggest), you can "push" development by creating a simple artificial environment that allows you to control all three factors. Works with ovum, cats and pupae. The techniques vary depending on what stage in and in some cases what family/genus. So you could force the lunas to emerge this season if wanted and you are willing to do some extra work. Just a thought, but over the years I have forced many species through a greatly shortened life cycle to robust, healthy adults, and raised numerous generations a year (even through the winter) of even species that normally only have one brood per year or a two year cycle. Success rate depends on how diligently you monitor them. But it can be done if you don't want to wait for nature to take its course, or chance desiccation or disease by over-wintering them.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

The cocoons are in a cage on my front porch with a fine mesh covering, so they're well protected, except maybe for tiny insects that could get through the small openings in the mesh, Ladobe. What specifically would I need to do to get the lunas to emerge now?
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 7, 07 at 15:44

I'm interested too Ladobe. An interesting winter project.

Lights on a timer to extend "daylight"? How to feed the cats after leaf fall? Do you make some kind of prepared diet out of host plants in advance?


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by ladobe 8b NV - 11 HI (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 7, 07 at 17:02

Will try to answer both of your questions as briefly as possible, but there are a lot of varying factors involved. You may have to read between the lines some but this ought to get you started. Will try to handle follow up questions if you have them. I have reared A. luna several times, but never winter forced them. But my Saturniid methods worked very well on many other silk species I reared all year so they should work on these as well.

Usually with pupae its a good idea to give them a false winter by putting them on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator for a time. Dont worry, they wont freeze. Line a shallow and well ventilated container with a layer of paper towel, mist the toweling near the pupa (not them) lightly with distilled water and again anytime it gets completely dry. But keep an eye out for fungus and change the toweling often. How long in cold storage varies by what habitat in nature they were raised in. Probably a couple of weeks at least though and you can experiment by only bringing out a few per day over several days/weeks. When you take them out of cold storage, give them a clear/opaque container with room for emergence and a screen top. Again with toweling on the bottom to be misted/changed as needed. You can control the humidity in the container by partially covering the screen with plastic wrap and moving it as needed. Start with the current day light photo period for a couple of days, then add artificial light to gradually increase the photo period to as much as 24/7. Mist the toweling near them when it gets dry and give them good air circulation (those mini personal battery or A/C powered fans work well). As you increase the photo period, you also want to SLOWLY increase temperature. Can be done by moving them to gradually warmer places in the house every few days (but dont put them in direct sun light) or with a low wattage bulb placed nearer and nearer to the container. With the right combination they will emerge just fine and be very healthy. Desiccation kills more over-wintering ova/pupae than anything else, but you do have to be careful not to over-do the humidity and invite fungus.

I know, lots of holes but I was trying to keep it brief.

Even all the years I lived in the frozen north buried under snow for many months a year I raised many species of leps year-round. Most larval food plant cuttings can be collected in late summer or fall and kept fresh all winter with not too much trouble. Just gather the highest quality you can find, and take cuttings leaving some of the stems. Water shoots are usually available right up to the first frost of many plants and will winter keep very well. Wash the cuttings with clean water to remove any possible insect pests or insecticide, shake off as much water as possible, wrap the cut ends of the stems with damp toweling, then wrap the cuttings in air tight plastic bags with as much air removed as possible for storage on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. The "bag" being used to feed cats will be fine with maybe an occasional misting until you use up the plant in it. The other bags should be removed every few weeks (depending on the plant species), washed again and repackaged in a clean bag before going back into cold storage. Not much trouble for only a few cats/species, but with the thousands of cats and dozens of species we reared a year it could become a chore. I had two large extra reefers out in the garage for longer term cold storage of both plants and livestock, but kept some of both right in the house food reefer as well. Tolerated though because ex wife was also a dedicated lepidopterist. LOL

HTH,

Larry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Larry, what does the HTH stand for?
I think that's more work than I can do, but it's amazing that you can create the upcoming seasons artificially so they'll think it's spring in the fall! If my cocoons don't emerge soon, I may make another smaller cage for them, using even finer mesh as a covering, and keep the smaller cage in the big cage - with double layers of mesh, it would be extra hard for any tiny insects to reach them. I want to keep them on the porch so they experience the seasons naturally - I have a feeling they'll emerge soon on their own.
Thanks for the info - it's fascinating!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Good Lord...

I had no idea anyone was having such success raising the giant silk moths. I was just getting ready to order eggs/cocoons from Oelke.

Anyone remember Luis? The Alpha Wolf? He is in college now and has just hatched a batch of Imperial moths.

Anyway...I live in Fl and would be happy to have giant silk worm moth eggs from anyone. I have pecan, red maple, mulberry, camphor and many more hosts.

Anyone with eggs please email Flytink@aol.com, I'd be happy to pay postage.

Many congrats on your lunas Miss Sherry, I'm GREEN with envy.

All the luck


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Flytink - haven't seen you for awhile. It's good to hear from you.

I'm so glad for the update on Luis! We have posted a few times wondering how he's doing. His posts were so much fun! Is he majoring in entomology? I remember he had a balcony and was trying to grow plants for butterflies, and he had the best luck just "finding" caterpillars - I seem to never find them wandering around my yard like he did.

Please tell him we are thinking of him fondly and would love to hear from him.

Bill is a great person. I've worked with him on gathering info on the Oklahoma catacolas and sphingidae for his website.

Susan


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Susan:

I copied and pasted you kind reply and emailed it to Luis.

As I type, he is trying to remember his password! LOL

I'm still raising butterflies here. Nothing new and exciting, tons of monarchs this year, lots of SBSW and Zebra longwings, the usual amount of sulphurs, but odddly no GF's even though I have plenty of them flying here. My frimbiata is established but I'm still waiting for my first PVS, the polydamus keep it pretty well eaten.

It's been very hot this year and we sure could use some rain.

Candy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Ahoy hoy!

Flytink e-mailed me, so I figured I'd drop by and tell everyone I'm still alive.

I'm not majoring in entomology, but I will major in biology. In fact, I just declared my major last week. I really hated having to choose, because I pretty much like everything in biology....but who knows, maybe I'll minor in entomology? I'm not really sure how all this works, and I'd like to get higher degrees. Maybe then I'll do something related to entomology.

Anyway, I didn't really find caterpillars in my balcony. I think I only ever found one (army worm I think)! I mostly found cats from going to parks, other people's gardens, etc. Right now I'm not really able to do stuff like that though... like Candy said I did find an imperial moth the other day (coming back from class) and now I have a few caterpillars, but that's very unusual. I certainly can't grow ANY plants whatsoever (not enough room/light/etc), and I guess I'm not even supposed to have caterpillars. The only thing they allow us to have are fish, and you have to pay a fee in order to keep them. (*rolls eyes*... greedy bastards...)

Luis


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Welcome back, Luis!
The lunas still haven't emerged. Since the days are definitely getting shorter, they're getting less and less light, I'm figuring that they'll overwinter. I'll be making them another mesh covered container to put in the cage on the porch. I'd rather they experience the same temperatures as any wild lunas would, if there are any out there, so they'll emerge at the same time and get in sync with the wild group. Even if none are out there, they'll at least emerge at a time that's appropriate for this climate.
Ever noticed how much luna cocoons look like pecans?
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

MissSherry,

So your cocoons are not only "luna," they're nutty also?
LOL

OKSandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Very funny OKSandy, I like that one...

I am so happy(and maybe a bit strange) but when I was asked what I wanted for my upcoming birthday I said-Luna Moths..(no, really I did!)
I found a place online that sells Cocoons and then eggs in the spring, I am going to get a few Cocoons now and over-winter them. I feel I am ready to move onto Moths, and I just think they are beautiful creatures.
You have inspired me Miss Sherry! Thank you for this great thread-I have learned alot and have already started searching for there host plant for when I get the eggs next year. I have a Black Walnut(Juglans nigra) tree in my back yard that is bigger than out house so I know I will have enough leaves for them.

I will let everyone know when they get here, and take a few pictures..

Aggie


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I'm glad you enjoyed this thread, Aggie, and I hope you learned something - I know I sure have! I think lunas are an excellent choice for your first silk moths to raise - they were nearly as easy to raise as some butterflies, and they didn't take nearly as long as my regal moths. And of course, moths don't get any more beautiful than the big, mint green beauties!
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I have a question...about 3 weeks ago, I found a Luna moth caterpillar and it immediately spun a cocoon. I can hear it wiggling around in there. Does that mean that it may be getting ready to nibble its way out? Or is it likely that it won't until next spring? I would appreciate any help!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I don't think rattling around in its cocoon means a luna is about to emerge. Mine still haven't emerged, and with the days getting shorter and the temps cooler - it's a beautiful 66 degrees right now - I don't think they'll emerge until next spring. I'm on the line between Zone8 and Zone9 - in Zone5 chances are huge that it'll be next spring before you see an adult luna.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I have a Luna Moth Cocoon that I am beginning to worry about. We found the cat about 4 weeks ago and he immediately spun a cocoon. However, it is still very white and when I hold it up to the light, there is a distinctive bright green tint to it's inside. I read that if they don't pupate, that means they're not going to overwinter and should hatch within 2-3 weeks - is that right? My other Luna Cocoon (found the caterpillars a day apart) has turned a darker color and has obviously pupated. They both wiggle around when I hold them - but it has been 4 weeks since he formed his cocoon - any ideas? Thanks in advance for your help - I've been scowering the internet for 3 weeks, looking for answers and have found nothing


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

My daughter found what I think is a Luna Moth Caterpillar this afternoon in our back yard. It's about 3" long, 1/2 - 3/4" diameter and matches the pictures I've found online. I noticed that the others on this forum have all had their cats go to cocoon by now so I'm wondering if this guy will be alright.

I've put it in a container with air holes and some leafy twigs from the maple. I'd like to see if my daughter could take it to her school (4th grade) for the kids to watch the process and release the moth that (hopefully) emerges.

Any advice would be great.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I really can't answer your questions, since this is my first time with lunas, also.
Swan0677, you mean your luna spun a white cocoon? Mine all spun golden brown ones that look somewhat like shimmery pecans. I would assume if it rattled, that means it's still alive. I can only advise that you keep it in a protected, cool (unheated), dark place in your house over the winter or keep it in a protected place outside, preferably the latter, so it'll emerge at the same time as the other overwintering lunas. I keep my cocoons and chrysalids in mesh butterfly cages, so that when they emerge, they'll have a safe place to stay until I unzip the opening and let them out.
Clasedo, I'm quite sure that yours won't emerge until spring. You could keep it in a suitable container, and let your daughter take it to school in spring, but then if it's kept in a heated room, it'll probably emerge earlier than the outside lunas and not have any mates available when it takes its first flight. Since moths have to be released at night, your daughter's class wouldn't be able to see it fly off, unless you invite them to your house. Butterflies are better for schools, since they emerge in the morning (usually) and fly for the first time at noon or early afternoon (usually).
Sorry I couldn't give y'all better answers.
MissSherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Swan0677, what did you mean when you said "if it doesn't pupate"? In order to emerge, they would have to pupate first. Did you mean something about how fast it pupates? It would be nice to be able to predict when they'll emerge, so I'm interested in what you read about that. I envy all of you with Luna Moths! I never saw a caterpillar here, just a few adults.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

to biophilia - I guess what I meant was - inside the papery part of the cocoon - the Cat forms a dark brown, hard shell. I read somewhere that if they don't form that hard shell that means they're not going to overwinter. One of my Cats formed that hard shell inside the papery cocoon - but the other didn't. I can see the little guy when I hold a flashlight up to the cocoon - he still looks long and skinny and when I hold the light up to it, I can see a bright green color inside the papery cocoon.
I guess I'll just put him in a safe place and hope we will see him emerge in the spring.
thanks for your help


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

My first luna moth has emerged for 2008! We're supposed to have a light freeze tonight, so I'll wait and release him tomorrow night - the cold spell isn't supposed to last long.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

It's beautiful, Sherry!
-Jmcat


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yippee!! How exciting to see him or her. so beautiful! Thanks for giving us the update!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Beautiful, Miss Sherry...just absolutely beautiful.

Edna


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

It is gorgeous, Miss Sherry. Congrats!!! Hope that you are successful in getting them re-established in your area.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 6, 08 at 9:50

I wonder if it's the same guy that is shown in your original post. ;o)

I'm glad you've done so well. I hope you get a female soon and get to raise some "home grown" ones this year.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Missherry,
That is a wonderful thing you have done to re-establish the Luna's on your place. My husband used to tell me sad stories of the Luna's that would go to the bright lights at work then come early morning would go to the big rolls of nickel that his company uses. Then they would get killed by getting to cold and getting stuck on the rolls. This is in another town. I have lived here for years in Indiana and have never even seen one in flight. I have wild cherry tree's and lots of other tree's as well for them but not a one!! after you get yours established maybe you could send me a baby cat then maybe I can see them in my lifetime>

Thank you
Carol


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I'm happy to do it!
I moved the other cocoons out of his cage into another bigger one, then moved the cage with him in it to the front porch last night. He never left the cage. It got down into the upper 30's so maybe it was too cold for him to fly, or maybe he wouldn't leave because no female was out there "calling" - the term "calling" always reminds me of that old song Indian Love Call - "I am calling you--hoo-hoo-hoo--hoo-hoo-hoo" :)
I think he emerged too early. It's 70F degrees now, but it's supposed to rain tonight, not good weather for moths either. Thankfully, I've got several other luna cocoons, so at least if he's "wasted" he wasn't carrying lots of eggs!
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Sherry,
I just love this story!! it's not only informative but also just a great love story you and the luna's!
I have so many tree's they would love here in Indiana
I am calling you who hoo hoo hoo!! In the evenings here I always watch my big yard light I see bats sometimes but never the luna's.

Carol


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

  • Posted by kwoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 7, 08 at 10:06

"My husband used to tell me sad stories of the Luna's that would go to the bright lights at work"

Light pollution screws them up. Gravid females are often attracted to mercury vapor lights. It's one way of collecting them. I sometimes visit a parking garage here and collect prometheas, cecropias, lunas.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I wish but no one is allowed on the grounds it is a huge grounds with a security fence and guards. My husband plant works with nichol and so there you go..no way to get them but then again those lights are way up there like 40 feet or more. My yard light is like 25 feet high.

Carol


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

MissSherry,

I haven't posted lately, but I have been keeping up with your Luna moths. I have really enjoyed the posts and the pictures. You have some incredible experiences. I think you need to consider doing a book. I know I'd buy it.

Sandy


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks, Sandy!
I think I'm learning enough about lunas to write a book!
Another luna has emerged from the batch that I raised. Since I'm so poor at sexing them, I won't try, especially since it's in my dark guest room right now. I think I'll just leave the door open like I did with my other one this evening when I put him/her on the porch - if it's a female, she might stay in the cage waiting for a male.
A palamedes swallowtail emerged this morning also, and I just released it - I'm pretty sure he was a male.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Congrats Sherry, I'm happy for you! I hope you get a female and even better would be if she can draw a wild male out of the woods for you! Maybe they're not all gone - they just need a little help.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I just read your other post on moth help. Too cool that you did find a wild one and can have such a diverse family!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Yes, Kato, I've got 116 eggs out there in the cage on the porch about to hatch, at least I hope they'll hatch. I was told that the cold weather the male experienced may have hurt his sperm - sure hope not!
It sure is hot and windy today, sheesh, the Santa Ana winds must have come to Mississippi!
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I found a partially developed Luna Moth. It has the head, feet and partially developed wings of a moth and the fully developed body of a catapillar. Has anyone seen this happen before?


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

trippy557- can you post a picture of it?
Cant wait till my lunas eclose, hopefully soon!
-S.B.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hi,
I've been reading these postings for about 2 weeks now since my oldest son called me on his last day of school to tell me he was sitting next to a luna moth. (I thought he was crazy...I've NEVER seen one around here). Long story short, we took it in knowing it would soon pass. Well to our surprise "it" turned out to be a she...and laid 115 eggs inside my younger son's hamper. (one of those mesh ones from IKEA). I carefully removed the eggs (two little boys need a hamper as they make a ton of dirty clothes) and now they have hatched out. I have them in a glass apothicary jar with a fine mesh over the top. They are happily eating shag bark Hickory (thanks to my favorite nursery here who has given me permission to take as much as I need in trade for releasing some of them there). I have learned that they will eat and eat and eat and apparently go through a couple of stages where they split out of their old skin when it gets too tight. I noticed however that a couple of them seem to be against the glass with webbing around them. They only hatched out last Thursday so are only 5 days old. Does anyone know if this is normal??? I haven't read anywhere that they will do this before going onto the next stage of caterpiller life. (sorry for the apparent lack of proper terminology...I know plants but not moths) Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.
thanks
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Congrats on your lunas, Sharon! I recently released a few second generation moths from that same group.
Your cats on the sides of the glass with webbing around them are probably molting/between instars. As they grow and get bigger, it gets harder for them to get any privacy to molt - they don't like to be disturbed at that time.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks Miss Sherry
I just figured that out!! Man, they get big FAST!!! I had noticed that they were not doing much of anything before they molted and I caught a couple wiggling out of their previous skins yesterday morning. Poor little things a couple took a LOOOONG time to get that last little bit off!! Now just 24 hours later some of them have almost doubled in size!! My boys are getting more excited now that they are big enough to spot easily among the leaves. I'll keep you all posted!! Thanks
Sharon G in CT
(I'd better get them a larger home soon!!)


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Well I'm back from TX and all my babies are doing well thanks to a great friend who is as crazy as I am!! Had a question that I haven't seen addressed~when the cats are ready to go to cocoon what do they look like? I know they do a gut dump (black swallowtails have it all over the luna's for ick factor...raised them last year) but I have noticed that two of them have their hind quarters (last 2-3 sets of legs) are black and not moving. They are quite small now and very lethargic (which I know is normal)is this black coloration normal? I wonder because I did find a spider in my tank two days ago which was promptly removed. Now I wonder if it may have been bitten. Also, is there a leaf you would recommend for them to take cover in? Something they don't eat that is safe for them? I think those 3.5" sausage siblings would eat them out of their cocoons!!! Thanks again...if I knew how to attach pictures I would ...need to ask the hubby for instructions!!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks for bringing up this thread, Brownknees, since it has some information on it about controlling emergence times that I was interested in re-reading.
When lunas are ready to cocoon, they change to a yellowy color and start to move around the cage without eating, much like butterflies do just not as fast. I don't remember the bowel emptying as being as prominent as it is with butterfly cats, but it did happen. I used the regular host plant food for them to cocoon in, which in the case of lunas was sweetgum, and as soon as I could see they were making their cocoon, I'd cut off the portion of the branch they were on and move it to another cage where they could do this in privacy and not get nibbled by the other cats. One of my cecropia cats looks like it's about to spin its cocoon, so I've put a lot of extra branches in the cage with them.
Having black on their hind parts doesn't sound good, I know mine never showed that.
Was somebody taking care of your luna cats while you were gone? I think one of the most important things in raising caterpillars successfully is to be at home all the time with them. There are SO many things that come up during the course of the day that can only be solved by being there.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hi Sherry
Thanks for the information...I declared the little guy "dead" today and tossed him out back...if it is still alive then it'll make his/her way out there. The entire body shrunk up (is that a word?)and turned black but it still had some flexibility to it but I still think it was dead. I DO however have my first successful cocooner!! I did notice a color change (kind of peachy)and a "mess" on a fresh leaf that I had added~ just minutes later it was pulling a leaf up over itself so I removed it and found threads on it's feet. It is now in another jar and just like I read the head is going back and forth and it's sealing itself up in there snug as a bug...I'm so excited!!! I'll keep you posted...only 60 or so more to go!!
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Oh man every time I look there are new cocoons!! I have 32 with another 15 to go!! Two cats are still very small like under an inch...I wonder if they have parasites? I have read that a certain parasite (forgot what) can actually hold off the growing stages to be able to live longer? (hope this is not the case) I walk by the cocoons at night and you can hear them scritching and scratching away in there.
Have a question though..I reread this thread and I'm wondering...Miss Sherry...did it take from August of last year to March of this for them to hatch? Or did I just miss a generation there? Like everyone, I'm wondering when I will see the end result of this facinating journey!! (My husbands co-workers now refer to me as the "bug lady" after telling all about them at a 4th of July picnic!) they just don't get it!!
Thanks
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

All of last year's lunas overwintered, and all of them emerged as healthy moths this spring, although in my latititude, some of them could have emerged last fall. I then raised two luna cats from one of the females, they cocooned, and emerged within a few weeks - can't remember exactly when that was, maybe early summer? I'll guess that yours will overwinter, since yours are summer cats and you're up north, but it's possible that some will emerge in a few weeks, especially since you've got so many. Lunas are not necessarily once a year moths, like cecropias and regals and imperials - the latitude north or south, the time of the year, and the individual determine just when they'll emerge. I think I remember that in your latitude, two generations a year is the norm, so except for a few oddballs, you'll probably have your cocoons until next spring.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks again Miss Sherry...my husband will be thrilled!! ha ha ha I promised him that they would no longer be joining us for dinner (I have the 20 gallon tank on the kitchen table!!) in just a couple of weeks when I was sure they would hatch out! I think they may have to get a residence change to the breezway once they are all in cocoon. I read the part about keeping them in the fridge but that would go over like a lead balloon here. He's tolerant of my weirdness but I doubt I could convince him to keep 60 cocoons next to the broccoli!! I'll keep you posted!
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehehe! I don't think I'm going to put my cecropias in the fridge, either, Sharon - it's a little much for even me. I'll treat my cocoons like I always do, that is, they'll stay protected in the reptarian cage on the porch in the natural air until about December, at which time all my cocoons and chrysalids go in my unheated guest room, where the temperature is normally between 50F and 60F degrees, then back to the porch in late February.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I'm a MOMMY!!! I have my first luna baby as of yesterday afternoon!! I'm a little surprised and it's a good thing my 6 year old is much shorter than I or I never would have known. I finally moved my tank to my breezway since all the cats had finally pupated (is that a word?)and was thinking towards next spring. Most of the people I have told about them agreed that they would probably wait out the winter for me. I did notice that this moth is smaller than the mother only about 2.75" across but it has very slender antanea so I'm thinking female?? She/it keeps releasing a pearly white liquid so I wonder if this is the solution they use to melt out of the cocoon or if there might be something wrong with it?? Have you ever seen this before with yours?
Thanks
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Congrats, Sharon!
Yes, all moths release a liquid when they first emerge, but I've never even stopped to consider that this liquid is probably the cocoonaise that I've read about. It probably is, I'll have to look it up!
The two female lunas I released that were daughters of one the originals were smaller than their parents - must be a late season emergence thing. Female lunas have bigger antennae than most other female moths, but they're still much smaller than the males' antennae - males have a big 'comb' and females have a smaller one. Yours sounds like a female. I just left the door of the cage half opened, and the males found them there - most of my females never left the cage until they had mated!
Congrats again!
Sherry
P.S. I notice that your name is Sharon, very close to the official butterfly/caterpillar name - Sherry! :)


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

IT'S A BOY!!!
There are now 2 partners in crime sharing my tank!!! Definatly male/female...oh boy another breeding about to be undertaken!!! ha ha ha
this newest boy has HUGE antannea compared to the one that hatched out the other day...she stopped "leaking" so I'm not so worried anymore. I wonder if that cocoon mayonaise (what did you call it??) will melt the others in the tank? Hope not.
This is so exciting...thanks for sharing your knowledge with me I truly appreciate it!!
Sharon G in CT


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Hehehe!! You're welcome, Sharon!
I forgot to look up cocoon mayonnaise :) so I need to get on it. I don't think it'll hurt the others.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Thanks...it looks like mayonnaise!! I guess that when your life span in only a couple of days there's not much time for courting!! My male is "making the rounds" (man, I'm jealous at his stamina!) I checked my tank around 3am and he was...um let's just say "locked" in conversation with my female...when I got up at 7 they were still engrossed in their talk (about the olympics I guess) and another female was waiting patiently at the top of the tank!! I'm starting to think that I'll have less to overwinter at this rate. I'm thinking about putting the first female in a paper bag for another batch of eggs but I'm not sure how to keep them fed once the leaves start to change...do the eggs somehow know not to hatch this time of year?? Guess I'll find out cuz I can't resist trying this again!!
Sharon G in CT
ps anyone want some eggs???


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I'd like about 12-15 - I'll e-mail you my snail my address.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Sharon G,

Since you already have one pairing, I suggest you take a shot at getting some wild males involved. I used to have success with just putting females on the back of my house (took a couple years for the local birds to figure out what I was up to). Or you could try the aquarium method I've seen on here or the modified birdcage method I use. And it really is cool to look out your window to see a bunch of male lunas flying around.

KC


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

KC
I tried that for a couple of nights but we had no visitors. I did release all that have hatched at my friends nursery where there is plenty of white birch...thought they would have a better chance of finding a "non" related mate!! My eggs have all hatched and I'm hoping that I can get them to cocoon before the leaves all fall!! Most have just gone to 2nd instar so I think it will be a bit of a race for time but I think it will be ok at this point.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

What an interesting forum! I found a Luna moth caterpillar on a sidewalk on Tuesday. It was apparently a 5th instar, as that night it cocooned in the jar it was in with some leaves. The jar has a lid with some holes in it.

I'm wondering what do I do now? It is mid-Sept and getting cool here in the Pacific Northwest. I've created an ad hoc cage -- used 2 embroidery hoops and some netting. Where should this winter? Inside? Outside? I would appreciate any advice you are able to share with me.

I haven't heard/seen it move -- should I nudge it?

Thank you!


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Your cat will most likely overwinter at this late date. I have my cocoons on an unheated breezway so that the animals can't get to them. If you leave it inside there is a chance it will hatch out too late in the season for it to find a mate. If it just made it's cocoon it will be quiet for about 2 weeks or so and then you might hear some rattling. Mine needed to pupate first before I got the "rock and roll"! It's undergoing a wonderful change so don't poke at it. Unless I am moving them they are pretty uneventful however if you do notice a lot of activity about 4 or so weeks from now you may have a luna sooner than you think!! Keep us informed
Sharon


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I found a large fat green caterpillar in August crawling across the parking lot at work. I brought it home in a paper cup to show my sons we put it in their bug keeper. It was late so we went to bed and the next morning the caterpillar had cocooned. The cocoon is white. We did a search on the internet and learned it was a luna moth caterpillar. We did not find much information except it might come emerge in 4 weeks or next spring. We did not know to mist the cocoon. The Cocoon is white and has started moving. Is the moth ready to come out? Will he/she be able to if we have not been misting the cocoon? Any advise would help. My son is very upset that the moth may not make it out. Can we safely cut open the cocoon? We have kept it inside on the top of the refrigerator. I feel bad now as we have not been misting it and the moth maybe trapped. Any information will be appreciated.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Don't cut open the cocoon, you might kill it, and it won't be able to emerge correctly later on!
Since it's so late in the year, it probably won't emerge until spring, so if I were you, I'd leave it alone, protected, in a cool place.
I've never seen a white luna cocoon, actually I've never seen a white cocoon at all. Luna moths make golden brown cocoons - they look sort of like a pecan. Polyphemus moth caterpillars look almost identical to luna moth cats, but their cocoons are paler, more of a light golden color.
Why don't you just keep your cocoon over the winter, checking on it every day in case it emerges and you'll know to release it? It'll be fun to see what emerges next spring!
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

mroosa,

As Sherry said, don't cut open the cocoon. Luna pupas are very active, even months before the moth will emerge, so Luna cocoon movement is normal at any time.

You didn't say where you live so I'm going to assume you live in an area that is too cold for Luna moths in December: Don't worry about misting the cocoon, unless you are keeping it IN the refrigerator. I do NOT recommend keeping it in a frig since that means you need to remember to mist the cocoon. Best place for cocoon storage is in an unheated shed/garage/screened porch. An unheated attached garage would rank next. Keep the cocoon in something that keeps mice/predators out.

The white cocoon is a new one on me. Many cocoons are white when first spun but then darken. I've never had a Luna cocoon that didn't have some leaves attached. I'm assuming your cocoon has no leaves so maybe the caterpillar adjusted its silk to compensate for the lack of leaves. I would love to see a pic of your cocoon.

Just had a thought about your white cocoon. Did the caterpillar make the white cocoon around itself or did the white cocoon appear next to the caterpillar?

KC


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

KC's post reminds me that, actually, I should have said I HAVE seen many white cocoons, but they were all the cocoons of small cats, not the kind you described. When you said large green cat, and you thought it was a luna, I assumed you really meant big. If you're not into caterpillars, you might think a middling size green cat is big.
As far as I know, none of the big saturnid moths make white cocoons.
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

I'm giving this a bump because it was close to being bumped off (was on page 64). Lots of good info I did not want disappearing.

I'm officially back in the luna game after a two year hiatus. Put a girl out last night. First male showed up at 3:30. I grabbed him, put him in the bird cage and he promptly hooked up. Four more stragglers showed up after the first. Also had a poly girl out. First male showed up at 5. Two more showed up before 5:30.

KC


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Congrats on the lunas, KC! My latest batch are all cocooning, and I'm waiting for the eggs on the door to hatch. I moved the eggs to a little plastic container I use for hatchlings.
How I love those lunas - I must, since I keep gathering those sweetgum leaves, on and on and on....... :)
Sherry


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

When I went to gather some Sweetgum leaves today, the owner came out and greeted me. I told him the caterpillars were close to pupating so the bunch I gathered today could be the last. I've been keeping them refrigerated to feed as needed. He was very cordial and told me to come and get whatever I needed. I asked him if he saw very many lunas. He told me he sees lots of them all the time. He has five huge Sweetgum trees lining the road. So . . . I am hopeful of having a wild male come calling when these are raised. This is within a mile of my house.

I think mine were slow growing at first as they were in the air conditioned house. They have been in the sunroom now for over a week, and are rapidly going through the food. I replaced this morning's food already today. They are really getting fat.

Sandy


 o
RE: Luna Moths

Went into my moth/butterfly room this morning and discovered two luna moths, one on the ceiling and one on the radio. Both males. Definitely not good that my second brood cocoons are hatching now.

I lost a lot of cats to bacteria on the sweetgum I was using so I do not have many luna cocoons this year. I tried to save my last 10 luna cats on sweetgum by soaking their sweetgum but they all died. My last 2 luna cats have not been doing well. I don't think they like their birch getting soaked in 10% chlorine. My birch has been a death machine the last 2-3 years. Thought I'd try chlorine this year. Some cecropias have made it but the two lunas have been very slow to develop and after 7 weeks, they are not close to full size and are very lethargic.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Sherry, the Polyphemus spins a white cocoon. Unlike the Luna, the Poly cocoon is quite dense. They spin a LOT of silk! Their cocoons look like tiny surgical casts. In fact, it is because of this, that the Poly's first cousin, native to China, Antheraea pernyi, was and may still be used for silk, just as the Bombyx is. The Cynthia moth is also used for silk. At one time, Cynthias were common in NE US, but have largely died off, chiefly due to habitat loss as well as parasitoids such as the tachinid fly.

Susanlynne, one sureshot way to tell male from female Luna, at a glance, is color. The females are that characteristic green, while males are yellow-green. I could tell from my upstairs bedroom window, the Luna I saw, resting on a young hickory, was most definitely a male. No way could I see its body size or antennae. I hope this helps.


 o
RE: Luna Moth Caterpillars

Boy, this is sure an old thread!
That's terrible about you losing your moth cats, KC! I didn't realize bacteria were such a problem for the big moths, but I should have guessed.
It's interesting that this thread is back on, because I've been seeing black "raspberries" underneath a sweetgum tree close to my house. The lowest branch is too high up for me to reach it, even on my tallest, 8' ladder, but I bet it's a luna moth cat. I haven't raised any lunas in a while.
If somebody has some eggs they want to share I could raise some now - I'm only raising 3 cats presently, 2 gulf frits and 1 question mark. I may find more QMs, but probably not many more.
Sherry


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: This thread has reached the upper limit for the number follow-ups allowed (150). If you would like to continue this discussion, please begin a new thread using the form on the main forum page.


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