Monday, April 20, 2009

Luna #2

Still haven't located Luna #1 (my daughter suggested this morning that our golden retriever might have eaten him in the middle of the night -- ugh). In the meantime, we have a new moth! This one started breaking through its leaf-wrapped cocoon at 9:48 this morning; it rested for a few minutes and then was almost totally out by 10:20 a.m.

I thought we were in the clear at that point until I realized that it hadn't fully emerged. It seemed to be struggling to be free of the cocoon, so I picked it up and noticed that one of its forelegs was stuck to the cocoon. I tried to very gently pry it loose, but was afraid I'd end up injuring the moth. So I ended up breaking apart the cocoon from the opposite end of the hole from which the moth eclosed, hoping to free the leg that way. I was able to get the moth loose, but at the expense of that leg, which remained with the cocoon. Poor thing! I hope it survives this ordeal. It is now resting inside the terrarium.

I have been wondering over the last few days whether the males or females are the first to emerge; just came across the answer to this question at the University of Florida Extension site: "Adult eclosion (emergence from pupa) typically occurs in the morning with males usually beginning emergence several days before females. Morning emergence allows time for expansion and drying of the wings prior to the evening flight period. Also, during the first day after emergence, the moth voids the reddish-colored, liquid meconium which is composed of the breakdown waste products of the old larval tissues." (Incidentally, as I was trying to help free Luna #2 I got a squirt of tan meconium right on my hand. Ack.)

I assume that this is another male, given the early eclosure and bushy antennae. I hope the leg-loss wasn't too great of a setback. Despite this small tragedy, its wings seem to be lengthening nicely. So far, so good.

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