Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum


Title: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 08, 2011, 01:35:42 pm
The Lunas are out in Michigan :)  

This female Actias Luna just emerged from her cocoon today.  I’ll try to get her mated tonight so we can have baby Lunas to watch.


She seems to like foam as much as my bees :-D
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: AllenF on August 08, 2011, 01:57:38 pm
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: danno on August 08, 2011, 03:44:06 pm
I saved a cecropia moth from home depot last weekend
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 10, 2011, 01:44:36 am
Here’s a photo of one of the moth mating cages I put the Luna female in.  I make these out of plastic snow fencing sold at most hardware stores.  These are super cheap and work fantastic for the larger moths (i.e. Cecropia and Polyphemus).  If your Luna is on the large size (northern genetics?) they won’t usually squeeze thru either, at least not until they’re mated and un-couple (the next evening).


Mating moths can be a real pain.  Some are very particular about their mates and the timing.  All are prime food for birds.  To avoid the birds I put my cages up in the trees at dark and set the alarm clock to go off before morning light to retrieve them.  Dang birds get up VERY early!

If you’ve got a mated pair you have to very carefully carry the cage into a structure (barn/shed/house) for the day so the birds don’t get the moths.  If you’re not careful, or trip, the moths will uncouple and you may end up with an unmated female. 
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: MrILoveTheAnts on August 10, 2011, 02:51:34 am
I was told by David L. Wagner (author of "Caterpillars of Eastern North America") that the smaller Luna Moths were the result of poor diet. Typically they have to continue eating leaves that have already fallen off the tree in the autumn. Larger ones are usually born over the summer.
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 10, 2011, 10:37:06 pm
Mr Ants, I like the crowd you’re hanging out with!  I love David’s book.  If that’s what he says, then I will take that to the bank.  Thanks for passing the info along.  

Danno, glad you saved the Cecropia!  They’re one of my favorite moths.  The caterpillars look so cool.  They really do look like an alien creature when you find their large spiked caterpillars on your apple tree.

Mating success!  Now I put the female Luna in a paper grocery bag and let her lay eggs for a night or two, then release her.  
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 12, 2011, 11:19:12 pm
Houston, we have eggs. 


Most of the silk moths will lay eggs in a paper grocery bag if you want to collect and raise them.  She lays them in groups on the bag and I cut them out. 

A Luna moth will usually lay between 100 and 200 eggs before it dies.  In nature very few make it to maturity to perpetuate the species.  It would take a small forest to raise 200 silk moths in captivity so there is no need to collect that many eggs.  I normally collect about 75 to 100 though to account for my screw-ups and the high mortality rates they have as small caterpillars.

I collected about 75 eggs in the grocery bag from this Luna, then I released her to the wild.
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 21, 2011, 10:35:18 pm
It’s been almost 10 days now since my Luna moth layed eggs.  These should be hatching very soon now unless my moth mating skills were not up to par.  Sometimes you get duds.

While waiting for moth eggs to hatch I keep them in small plastic containers.  No holes are needed since the volume of air in the container vs the size of the eggs is enormous.  No leaves are needed until AFTER the caterpillars hatch.  They get their first meal from eating part or all of their egg shell.  I like to separate the eggs into multiple containers because it makes the small little caterpillars easier to deal with and contains the spread of any bacterial infections better.

Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: BlueBee on August 29, 2011, 08:10:12 pm
I’m throwing in the towel on my Luna eggs.  It’s been too long now, they’re duds.  I guess I’ll have to go back to moth mating 101  :(
Title: Re: Lunas are out
Post by: MrILoveTheAnts on August 29, 2011, 08:46:31 pm
I wonder.... The female was so small to begin with, and you're so far north, maybe she was a part of the last adult brood over the year. Go ahead and discard the eggs but put them next to a host plant. They may hatch next year, (though I thought they overwintered as adults,) hmmm.