Sunday, July 24, 2016

Inflation

As noted in the previous post, upon emergence Luna Moths look for a safe place to perch and inflate their wings. In our aquarium/nursery that place is at the top of a stick.


And once this one made it to the top is stayed for thirty-two minutes transforming as ...


... the wings are taking on the characteristic green color ...


... the upper wing fills out ...


... followed in turn by the under wing ...


... becoming this:


~~~~~~~~~~

This is National Moth Week, and we attended a mothing event at Franklin Parker Preserve last night. We met a teacher there who remarked how she enjoyed events like the moth night because it helps rekindle her child like sense of wonder with the world.

Watching the process of egg to moth certainly sparks that wonder in me. And I hope I was able to successfully share it with you.

Emergence

Saturday afternoon I was checking to see how many Luna Moths had emerged in our make shift nursery (at that time ten*). I noticed a cocoon walking across the floor of said nursery.

I watched and waited. And was rewarded with a moth emerging from its cocoon.


The light wasn't great, the moth was moving frantically, looking for something to grab on to, and I was shooting through the not so clean walls of the aquarium serving as the nursery.


It seemed a bit awkward on its feet as it struggled to free itself and find a safe place to perch where it could inflate its wings.


Eventually it made it out and began wandering.


And found one of the strategically placed sticks and proceeded to climb.


Note the tiny wings and fat body. Once it found a safe place to perch it began the process of pumping fluid from that body into the wings (the topic of a future post).

~~~~~~~~~~

* Ten on Saturday. So far we have had thirty-eight Luna Moths successfully emerge from their cocoons. And we have released all but one of them out in to the world.  That one was too new to make it on its own. It will be flitting about our yard soon enough.

Friday, July 22, 2016

That Only A Mother ...

We are up to ten* successfully hatched Luna Moths.

This is number ten. At first we thought he was newly emerged and just needed to dry out and inflate his wings.


But it appears that is not the case. And that this moth is not long for this world (although when the normal adult life span is one week, what does that really mean?).


It seems that this fellow's wings are deformed, and his left wing stunted.  We released him with the others this evening. And he made a beeline (moth line?) for me. It seems I looked like a nice big tree to climb. And climb he did. Making his way up my leg and continuing up my trunk. I gently placed him on a plant in our garden with the others.

I went out later, around ten, and the five moths were gone. Four I'm sure flitting about looking for a mate. And this guy? Doing the same thing no doubt, but on foot. I wish him luck.

==========

* That was last night when I wrote this post. We are now up to 17 moths hatched. And the moth in this post is still alive, clinging to the side of our house. We're pulling for him.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dinner Guest

We've noticed a rather large bird about the yard of late.

This bird, a Red-shouldered Hawk:


This is not a new bird for the yard. But this individual was spending quite a bit of time here. And we were curious as to why.


Last evening we were enjoying food and wine on the deck with a friend when we were joined by the hawk. It repeatedly landed, caught something, and retreated to a tree on the edge of the yard to dine.


We could easily see the hawk but not its prey. What it was catching? Mice? Voles? Small birds?  We've got all three here. Frustratingly, we just could not see.


This is the only image that gives any inkling of what was in its menu. If you bigafy the above image it looks like it has a rather large insect. But what insect? And why haven't we noticed these large insects about the yard? (You know if we had seen them we'd have pictures!)


We will of course keep watching. And photographing. And just maybe we'll find out. And If we get a good picture then you'll know too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hatchlings

Remember this mothing post?

That night we had multiple Luna Moths visit. We captured several. And we put then in an enclosure. And they got busy. As a result we have over fifty cocoons.

And last night, for unknown reasons, I couldn't sleep. And around 2:30 AM I was wandering about the house. And I discovered that two Luna Moths had emerged from their cocoons.

Two became five by the time I finished work.


So of course we took some pictures.


All five seemed to be males, which is to be expected as males emerge several days before females. Luna Moths have no mouth parts and do not eat. They exist for one reason and one reason only. To make more Luna Moths.  Thus those males will be looking for females.

And they are looking for them about our home woods. We set all five free this evening. And we look forward to releasing many more.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Swallowtail Caterpillars

Remember these eggs? When I looked for them the past Saturday morning they were gone. But I saw no caterpillars.

This has changed.

"I've got something to show you," said Patty as I arrived home from work, "In the front garden."

This:


A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar.


There were several and of different instars.


All munching away on our dill plants.

As was this one, which I was not able to identify.


I think it is a type of Slug Caterpillar. Perhaps an instar not illustrated in my guide book. Hopefully the birds won't eat it and we'll find out.