Luna Moth - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Luna Moth


by Tony Shumacher

DORCHESTER (WAOW) -- We have an interesting topic today..Luna moths. To talk about this I am here with Loretta and Hildegard Koos.

They have a nature preserve and museum on their property and they've studied many topics over the years, but this is a very interesting topic. So, why the fascination with Luna Moths?

"Well on a warm June or July evening you might go out to see the beautiful green moth with small eye spots and with beautiful white body and long three inch tail," says Loretta.

They are fairly native, but their also not that common because they're a little weak and nocturnal. Unless you are out at night, you might not see them.

"I have three caterpillars on white Birch trees and I've been feeding them each day with fresh weeds," says Loretta. "They go through five stages and right now, they are changing and getting rid of their skin."

You can learn a lot about these insects by watching them during the different stages of their lives. Plus, if you are an animal lover, there are more humane ways to observe the insects than in the past. Before, people would capture the caterpillars and moths. Then, they would stick pins through their bodies, like a science fair project.

"We have learned so much more about Luna Moths by observation and photography," says Hildegard.

Loretta and Hildegard's fascination with Luna Moths dates back to the 1970's when they stumbled upon some of the insects.

"We found them under our Piggley trees and unfortunately we moved some of the cocoons with a lawn mower," says Loretta. "We kept hoping that we find more, but we didn't see them for years and years. Eventually, I wanted a Luna Moth caterpillar so I could watch the sequence of its life cycle."

Loretta and Hildegard were unable to watch the moth's lifecycle because they couldn't find a female moth. But all that changed in 2003.

"We found a tiny quarter inch wall caterpillar on all our trees on Almond Avenue and it was a female that made a cocoon and stayed in that cocoon until the next June," says Loretta. "When it came out, we were able to save its eggs."

When the moths come out of their cocoons, you can hear a bird-like sound as their wings scratch around. Each female can lay up to around 200 eggs a year. Loretta and Hildegard release most of the moths back into nature, except a few mating pairs.

If you'd like more information about Luna Moths or the nature preserve museum, you can contact Loretta and Hildegard Koos at (715) 748-3684.

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