Each year Lorna raises monarchs and other butterflies. Thanks to her, I've had the opportunity to see some caterpillars I'd never laid eyes on before. This spring Lorna raised Zebra silkworms from eggs she got from Michael Cook, who runs an excellent website on silkworms.
The caterpillars are strikingly lovely with vivid markings. As they get ready to spin their silk cocoon, they prefer a close environment, and toilet paper rolls are perfect. Since Lorna was running short, I offered a bag, as I always have lots. As thanks, she was kind enough to give us several cocoons!
The girls and I anxiously awaited moths for a few weeks. Rather than stifle (kill) the cocoons, as is commonly done to preserve the silk, we let the silkworms complete the lifecycle.
Yesterday the moths emerged! We were so excited! Most of the moths were fine, two males and two females. However, the first to arrive had damaged wings and trouble moving. And one cocoon has yet to yield a moth. The healthy moths set about mating pretty quickly, laying eggs soon afterwards. They're still pairing and laying today.
These guys will live for a just a few days, since they don't have mouths. Then we'll store the eggs until next spring, and hopefully, begin the process again!
If you're local to Northwest NJ, and would like to meet Lorna and learn more about her experience raising butterflies and moths, please be sure to attend her Monarch Migration Workshop on July 6 at the Catherine Dickson Hofman Branch of the Warren County Library in Blairstown, NJ.