This morning, while working in my office, I heard a light flicking sound inside the butterfly terrarium a few feet away. It was fairly repetitious, so I figured something was happening with one of the luna moths. Sure enough, one of the cocoons was active; it wasn't long before a tuft of creamy, furry "scales" started poking out just a little bit from a hole in one end of the cocoon.
After a couple minutes wrestling around inside the cocoon, the moth stopped moving. The girls and I picked it up to take a closer look. I tried to take some photos with my husband's complicated SLR camera but couldn't figure it out (even in auto mode I was only able to take one blurry pic, nothing worth sharing). I put the cocoon down and a minute or two later it became active again. At that point, it only took a couple of minutes for the moth to push itself out of the cocoon. The body was furry and white and limp, but soon it stretched to become a full-size abdomen. The bushy antennae (which indicate, I think, that it's a male) perked up right away. The little guy was very busy from the get go, crawling all over the place. It couldn't fly, of course -- its wings were too tiny and shriveled to be of any use at that point. So I put him in the terrarium and he climbed the screening all the way to the top of the cage, where he rested on the wooden frame for a couple hours, pumping up his wings.
The girls and I left the house for an excursion to the park, and when we came home the Luna had a beautiful 3 1/2 inch wingspan. The wings are crisp and bright, a pale green color lined with burgundy and with two eyes on the wings. The eyes and tail-like hind wings kind of resemble the face of an elephant. The moth is very calm, sitting perfectly still inside the terrarium (undoubtly waiting to mate with one of other moths). It's really quite a sight -- beautiful, serene. When it flies, its shivering wings make it look like a tiny angel.
Here's another pic of the moth inside the butterfly terrarium my in-laws created for me:
There is one more pic (and plenty of other photos that have nothing to do with moths) at my husband Steve's flickr site. Enjoy!