Cecropia Watch, Pt. 5

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June 9

The morning after the first momentous hatching, the male had disappeared off on some romantic adventure, but the female was still there, hanging onto my Norway pine.

This worried me. (We humans tend to think that animals always need our help, and I, too, am guilty of this.) I worried that the female was too secluded for a male to find her.  I worried that even if a male found her, she'd be confused and lay her eggs on the Norway pine, which would be disasterous for the hatching caterpillars, who wouldn't be able to eat its leaves/needles.  

[Julie told me later that the female probably had not yet mated. After they mate, females fly off to lay their eggs in the appropriate spot.]

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I brought her over to a nearby crabapple tree. She wasn't happy with me, but settled stoically onto a branch.

June 10

We had more heavy rain in the night. I lay awake, wondering how my Cecropias were faring.

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June 11

The next day brought another eclosing!  

Even though I always check frequently around the middle of the day, I never seem to be able to catch the newly-eclosed moth crawling from its cocoon. It pops out in only five minutes, so it's easy to miss, but still . . . !

This male was a little smaller than the last, but with beautiful coloring.

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 And extremely fancy antennae.

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I remembered how hard it had been to cut through the inner and outer cocoons, so I studied the discarded husk . . . and noticed the small hole at the top, where the moth crawled out. This must be the "escape valve" they build into the cocoon when they spin it.

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June 12

The next day I had a nature-loving friend over. When we went out to look at the cocoons, we saw that another moth had eclosed. Yay!

The new moth was a female, who looked lopsided, with one wing smaller and more crumpled than the other.

But she set about pumping up those wings . . .

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