The large Luna Moth is a beautiful creature. The Luna Moth (Actias luna) here was badly damaged and missing its long tail, but it was alive when my friend found it in her back yard. She put it in a casserole dish and began her researches.
Her moth was a female and even in its ravaged state it began to lay eggs. Ordinarily females will lay between 100-300 eggs about 4 to 7 at a time on the underside of leaves. This moth had to make do with laying them on the dish.
I apologize that this photo is a little out of focus. My attempt at a close up was not successful. These eggs are about the size of a pinhead, smaller than a beet seed. Our poor lady could not lay them on the underside of a leaf, but she laid these down with whatever glue she naturally produces to make the eggs stick to a leaf. That is something else I never thought about, that all the insect eggs that are laid on leaves need a ‘glue’ to make them stick.
Eggs incubate for 8 to 15 days and then each caterpillar begins its journey through several developmental stages (instars) before spinning a cocoon and pupating for about 2 weeks. Their life span is short. They do not eat, but mate and die in about a week. This moth was discovered on June 3 so it must be very near it’s death.
I have not seen any Luna Moths, but I have noticed more butterflies than last year which makes me very happy. The swallowtails haven’t started eating my dill, but they are welcome to it.