How to Care for a Luna Caterpillar

By Amanda Williams

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Watching caterpillars transform into moths is enjoyable, especially when you play an active role in the process. Raising caterpillars is a fun, hands-on learning process for insect lovers, from first-timers to experienced hobbyists. When raising luna caterpillars, consider care components such as shelter, food and water, proper handling and pupa and adult care.

Shelter

Once you have acquired luna moth eggs, gently relocate them to a stable and permanent shelter, such as a plastic fish tank or a cleaned-out gallon milk jug. Cover the tank or jug with a secured screen or breathable cheesecloth. Avoid a shelter that is too small or that has breathing holes with rough edges, where caterpillars could be injured. Use a spray bottle to mist the shelter every few days to maintain humidity. It typically takes 10 days for luna moth eggs to hatch.

Food and Watering

Before the eggs hatch, determine a host plant, such as the white oak or black walnut. It is beneficial to add a variety of host plant leaves and let the caterpillars choose their favorite, then solely feed them their preferred variety. As soon as the caterpillars hatch from their eggs, place several fresh host plant leaves in their shelter. Upon hatching, luna caterpillars will begin eating immediately. Since they derive their nutrients and water supply from the leaves you provide to them, replacing the leaves inside their shelter daily is essential. Luna caterpillars shed their skin over a period of four weeks until they are fully grown.

Interaction

Daily interaction with your luna caterpillars should include frequent cleanings of the shelter. Directly after the caterpillars hatch, line the bottom of their shelter with paper towels to catch droppings. At the end of each day, toss the paper towels out and replace them. This helps prevent the growth of mold. If you choose to handle your caterpillars, be very gentle. Wash your hands before and after accessing their shelter to prevent the spread of bacteria. Do not pull or tug on the caterpillars. Let them come to you and climb off you on their own, as being forceful may damage their appendages.

Pupa and Adult Care

Care required for a pupa and adult luna moth is minimal. Pupa and adult luna moths do not eat or drink. All you need to do is place several sticks from the floor tilted up to the side of the shelter so the caterpillars have somewhere to prepare for their metamorphosis, and so adult luna moths have a place to climb and stretch their wings. You may also continue to spray their shelter with water to maintain humidity. Adult luna moths normally live four to five days.

Photo Credits

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Author

Amanda Williams has been writing since 2009 on various writing websites and blogging since 2003. She enjoys writing about health, medicine, education and home and garden topics. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at East Stroudsburg University in May 2013. Williams is also a certified emergency medical technician.