I have a confession to make. I thought my Luna moth was dead. I was very sad, but also very convinced.
Early in my project, one of my readers contacted me to let me know that she had also purchased a Luna Moth cocoon and that hers was wiggling (which is what they are supposed to do). Mine never wiggled. I'd watch and watch...no wiggling. So she suggested that I pick up the cocoon and hold it to the light. I tried that several times and it didn't move. The only movement I felt was the weight of it rattling back and forth inside of its dried leaf cocoon while my hand was shifting it about for a better look. It felt like a shriveled up pea inside a pea pod. I was devastated, but the guy I bought it from had told me that I could get another cocoon if the first didn't hatch, so I contacted him. Based on my description, he also thought it sounded like the moth had dried up and died so he sent me a second cocoon which arrived last Thursday.
Here is Luna Moth Cocoon Number 2. Smaller than the first with, like its sister, no recognizable movement. By the way, you can left click twice on any of the pictures to see the larger version of the picture. It is worth it to see the details!
...but I have learned my lesson...the confession is yet to come.
After the nice man told me that he'd scheduled delivery on a second cocoon, I picked up the first cocoon to look at it.
Before I go on, I want you to think about what you would do if you had a cocoon that you AND the sale person, who I assumed was an expert, thought was dead. Do you know how you'd handle this situation? Okay, then I can continue...
Well, I remembered how once when I had been making cookies I found an organic egg that was solid when I tried to crack it open like there was a dead baby chick inside and I threw it away. My sister had given me such a hard time for not opening it up to see what was inside. So this time, faced with a similar conundrum, I, and I cringe to say this, decided to cut the cocoon open and see what was inside...all in the name of science you know. So first I tried to gently rip it open. That little thing was much stronger than it looked. I couldn't rip it, so I made a wee clip in the side of the cocoon with a pair of scissors and then when I couldn't see anything, I made a slightly bigger clip. As soon as I made the bigger clip that darned thing started wiggling all over the place. And this didn't feel like a dried pea rattling around in its shell, it felt like a living thing squirming, like my own babies in the womb. I felt sick to my stomach. I had taken my precious Luna Moth, whom I had assumed to be dead, and single-handedly KILLED it. There was a tragic irony here.
Well, presented with this new development, I did what you would probably do and tried to gently wrap that little gal back up in her leafy home and put it back in its habitat. I continued to spray it with water to keep it from dehydrating and for awhile it shifted around in its cocoon, which I could see now because, even though I had tried to wrap it back up, that cut was still there and it didn't want to close. One day it would lean in one direction and then the next time I looked, it would have shifted to a new position.
Then, after a few days, it stopped moving altogether. I felt terrible. But this time, I did NOT get rid of it or open it up further. I had learned my lesson. I just left it alone in the off chance it had survived my woeful treatment of it.
I am happy to announce that yesterday, after returning from a day of errands and Little League games, I discovered that my Luna Moth had emerged from its leafy cocoon. It was hanging from the top of its habitat quivering.
At first I thought it was the second cocoon that had hatched, but upon examination, I found that it had indeed been my poor harassed little Luna friend.
You can see that perfect straight edge where I cut the leafy cocoon open (I didn't touch the crysalis).
The crysalis is almost as beautiful as the moth itself.
In this last picture you can see the delicate silk that attached it to its coccon. I feel really fortunate that I chose to cut the other end rather than the end to which it was attached.
We decided to name her Luna Lovegood. What other name could she reasonably have? I love her little fluttery tail.
Here is a close-up of the eyespots on her wings. They almost look like real eyes. It is quite amazing, but I guess that is what they are supposed to look like.
Here is her little face. Her body is so white and fuzzy. I had a hard time getting a photo of it because I couldn't turn her over.
This was the best I could do.
She even condescended to come out of her habitat and sit on my hand, although I could only take a few pictures because I could tell she was frightened. She was quivering like an aspen leaf in the breeze.
You can see the movement in her fluttery tail.
I am hoping to have another photo session with her so that I can take close-ups of her antennae and better close-ups of her eye-spots, but I wanted to give her a rest.
This has been the biggest thrill for me! I feel so fortunate that she has arrived and that she made it, despite my best efforts to put her out of her misery. I hope you enjoyed this look at my science project. I will put these pictures and others in my Luna Moth Project photo album on the left sidebar.