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Author Topic: Question for the Mature  (Read 1078 times)
buzzbee
Ken
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« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2013, 07:16:41 PM »

And everyone else bought bug zappers to get the ones missed by the mercury vapor lights. Growing up in town the lights were a great feasting area for bats at night so there was some benefit.
On  side note, it was a bit ironicwhen the power was out in our valley that the Amish were the only ones with the modern convenience of artificial lighting. (Gas lanterns)  Smiley.  Personally I kind of enjoyed the dark and quiet time.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2013, 08:41:54 PM »

It’s been a while since I have seen anybody use a bug zapper, but I don’t recall them zapping the big bugs.  Electricity doesn’t kill unless a bug touches both the positive plate and the negative plate at the same time.  I don’t recall the grids being big enough for a Luna (or other large moth) to fit through.  It might be difficult to get a UL listing for a zapper if a child can stick their finger through the holes. 

I think the bigger killer of these moths are pesticides and parasitic flies and wasps brought in to combat the Gypsy moth.  Consider their food.  The Luna moths tend to favor the nut trees (Walnut, Hickory) but also do OK on Salix (willows).  Cecropia tend to favor Malus (Apple) and Prunus (Cherry) trees.  Michigan grows  a LOT of apples and cherries (sour).  When those trees are sprayed to kill “insect pests” that INCLUDES our native giant silk moths.   

I cover my caterpillars with wedding tulle or other screening to prevent wasps, hornets, and birds from eating them.  You would be surprised how HARD is to protect them from all the other hungry bugs out there!  If a wasp gets in, they will just start chewing big chucks off the caterpillar flesh.  Green blood everywhere! 

If they make it to the cocoon stage, they then have to survive the winter, the mice, the mowers, and humans raking up the cocoons (in the leaf litter) and burning them alive!  After all that struggle to survive, they only live about 2 weeks as an adult flying moth….since they have no mouth in the adult stage.

They make raising honey bees seem like a piece of cake. rainbow sunflower 
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T Beek
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« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2013, 06:33:41 AM »

BlueBee; your Moth descriptions are very intriguing.  Do you/can you provide a link that a novice could learn more about this fascinating venture in moths?

Bug zappers?  I thought (wishful thinking?) they were removed from the market, no?  I've never owned one, but have been around them.   A typical if not horrible human response to bugs (and most things we fear)…feared by some…..and destroyed or eliminated by others……all part of our disconnect from the natural world.  I don't know but after up to 7 months without bugs I'm happy to see and feel  Wink their return.  For a little while anyway.

We are in control  grin at least we can turn off our power (lights) with the flip of a switch and rest in peace and quiet whenever we choose.  Our power (from BIG Energy) goes out several times a year, causing concern usually during summer months due to loss of refrigeration, but we love the lack of artificially created noise (the hum) during those outages so much we regularly just turn the works (remove ourselves from the grid) off and rely on our solar panels alone, especially during winter.
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« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2013, 11:27:52 AM »

I seem to have salix, malus and prunus growing in my yard.  Where can you get caterpillars?  I guess I would have to not use my BT while attempting to rear some.  I already let the yellow swallowtails eat one bed of roses! 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2013, 07:10:23 PM »

The hard way to get started with Luna moths (or the other native silk moths), is to go out into the woods with about 1000 watts of lights and a bed sheet.  Hang the sheet near the lights.  The lights do attract moths and if you’re really lucky a female might land on your illuminated bed sheet.  The females don’t fly until they’re mated and hence if one lands on your sheet and you catch it, you should be able to collect some eggs to start with.  Put a mated female moth in a paper grocery bag and she will lay lots of eggs.  Those will hatch into very small caterpillars in about 2 weeks.  I have not used the lights method myself; too much work.

The next hardest approach is to collect cocoons from trees in the spring; before the trees leaf out.  I have done this, and it works pretty well to get started with Cecropia, polyphemus, or Prometheus moths.  When those moths (caterpillars) spin a cocoon, they usually also attach a little silk to a tree branch.  This holds the cocoon to the tree after the leaves fall.  Just look for oblong debris hanging from a tree in the spring and it might be a cocoon.   Pick them off the tree and put them in a cage.  The moths will start emerging in late spring after the trees have leafed out.  Unfortunately the Luna’s usually form cocoons by wrapping themselves around a leaf or two, and when the leaves fall, so do they.  They then get mowed over or burned in leaf piles!  That makes them harder to find.  Unfortunately a lot (30%+) of the cocoons you find in the wild will be parasized (eaten alive over winter) by parasitic wasps and flies.  If the cocoon feels ‘light’ it will probably be a dud.

Another approach I’ve successfully used is to carefully observe the moths favorite host plants in mid summer.  If you see an area with a bunch of damaged leaves, then SOMETHING is eating at it.  Sometimes you will get lucky and find a giant caterpillar. 

The easiest way to get started with moths is finding a local bug guy who happens to sell eggs at garden events, or buy eggs from a source on the Internet.  I have purchased from a couple of sources over the years, more recently from a guy in Canada.  He’s also got a good website with more details how to raise the various silk moths. 

Here’s a link to his page about Luna moths; how to raise, etc.

http://www.silkmoths.bizland.com/Actiaslunarearing.htm

Like with honeybees, there is a learning curve with moths.  You should expect plenty of failures along the way.  Personally I find the Polyphemus are the easiest moth to raise.  The Luna’s are a little more fragile.  I find the Cercopias (aka Robin moth) the hardest to raise.

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T Beek
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2013, 05:35:59 AM »

Thanks for the info BlueBee.
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