Her Milkshake

It brings all the boys to the yard. The female Polyphemus moth that hatched out Sunday at DFW Fiber Fest was mated last night.

To ensure that I get eggs for the next generation, I make a slip-knot leash out of silk sewing thread and tie it around the base of her wings, so that it doesn’t bother her as she moves. I tie the other end to a spring clip. I hide her in a bush (in this case, a Japanese maple) and she uses a pheromone to attract nearby males. They will fly up to 5 miles to find her, based solely on scent. In a natural state, they will stay attached through the following day, and then part ways at dusk. She will start flying around laying her eggs (usually around 200) and he will fly off to find another mate. If I’m wanting to rear the eggs, I will put her into a brown paper lunch bag and fold down the top; she will lay eggs inside the bag, and I’ll collect them by tearing up the bag into little pieces with the glued-down eggs attached. I often do half-and-half — she lays half the eggs in the bag for me, and I let her go to fly around and give the other half to the woods.

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