It’s Begun!

Eight days ago I started on a journey with some of my favorite bug friends—cecropia moths! I purchased the cocoons this winter, which is during their “off” season. Cecropias, like many butterflies and moths, stay in their cocoons for the winter months and bide their time, waiting for the warming late-spring to emerge.

Bug enthusiasts can use the crisper draw in the fridge to mimic the winter’s cold. I took my cocoons out from the crisper on May 15th, and planned for a late spring eclosion. (That’s the nerdy scientific term for hatching from a cocoon.)

A newly emergent cecropia male minutes from eclosion

These guys kept me waiting a heck of a long time! Ten years ago my cocoons all hatched between 18-21 days. This spring it was a lot longer. The first moth eclosed on day 38!

When the moth breaks free from the pupae casing, he (my first moth was a male) climbs up quickly to the highest point and starts pumping fluid from his abdomen into his wings.

In this way, the wings, which are bunched up little wads in the cocoons, can grow to their full glory.

The pumping starts as soon as the moth ecloses, and after about an hour the wings start to harden. So the moth wants the wings fully extended before they harden.

This guy was out about 40 minutes (after eclosing) and he miss stepped. He dropped like a rock, because his wings hadn’t begun to harden yet. And, of course, I had the door to the screen cage open because I was taking his picture! He fell 4.5′ to the floor. I quickly set my camera aside and bent to pick him up, but he was fine. His wings were a wet pile of noodles, and he climbed onto my finger and I got him back in the screen cage.

It’s been very exciting sharing my home with my moth troupe! And my two feline assistants (Baloo and Gus) constantly try to lend a paw! I’m going to make a series of learning galleries because there is so much interest in raising these critters, but first things first. I have an E-Commerce site to launch in five days!

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