Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Luna Eclipse

No, I didn't spell my title wrong.  Over Memorial Day weekend we picked up a particularly large, fat caterpillar and decided to bring it home with us from East Texas.  We put it in a small container and Braden added some extra leaves for it to munch on.  Only, it didn't munch on them.  It started folding itself up in the leaves.  I didn't really know what to make of it.  I thought we were going to have a HUGE butterfly on our hands from the size of the caterpillar, but I'd never heard of one folding itself into a cocoon of leaves.  When I showed Sam, he said he thought it was going to be a moth and not a butterfly.  Well, we went ahead and brought it home and put it into the hanging butterfly garden that I bought more than a year ago.  I had bought the caterpillars online to go with it, but they didn't survive, so this was our first go with the "garden" a.k.a. cage. (Don't you love how companies try and make something sound way better than it actually is?)  While trying to put it into the cage, I accidentally dropped it and it started shaking like a maraca.  Well, that creeped me out a wee bit....

Well, it hung for weeks with no sign of life.  I finally heard a scratching sound late one night and thought it was another kind of bug that had a death wishmik, and went searching for it for a bit until I figured out that it was the cocoon.  Then, my friend Ali came over and she inspected it thinking it might be dead, but decided not so much when it started shaking and scratching yet again.  A couple of days later, I just happened to look up and noticed something hanging on the side of the cage and got it down and this is what we saw:

Isn't it pretty?  Its called a Luna Moth.  I texted Sam about it and said I would prefer that he release it with the kiddos.  I'm not so much into large flappy things around my head. :)  I had told the kids that once it hatched, we would not be keeping it as I didn't want to mess with feeding it.  AND, because I didn't know when this not-so-little-guy had come out, I didn't know if he was starving or not.

So, Sam got home and we waited a little longer til the evening to release it because we were hoping the birds wouldn't get him.

Sam is amazing.  He just reached in there and scooched it on out.

It took a while for it to decide it wanted to leave the table.  It flapped around a bit before it got its air legs and got itself going.  Sam did say that a bird narrowly missed getting it.  After all that was said and done, I wanted to know more about it because I'd never seen a moth like that.  I didn't get a pic of its body, but it was beautiful.  It was fuzzy and white and the texture reminded me of a pipe cleaner.  I found these pics online:

Anyway, after reading more about it, I found out that it doesn't have a mouth at all!  It lives for 3 days and its sole purpose it to find a mate and reproduce.  Craziness!  The no mouth thing really got me.  I also felt really bad after reading that because I don't know exactly how long it had been hanging out in the cage ready to fly before I glance up there and also because apparently they are rather rare and even endangered in some areas.  That got me to thinking that it probably wasn't gonna find a mate around here since we are some 6 hours away from where it was supposed to be.  Oops.

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