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An Emerging Luna Moth

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A listener sees a luna moth as it is emerging from its cocoon.

The Luna moth pupates after spinning a silk cocoon, which is thin and single layered. Shortly before pupation, the final, fifth-instar caterpillar will engage in a "gut dump" where any excess water and intestinal contents are expelled. As pupae, this species is more physically active than most moths. When disturbed, the moths will wiggle within their pupal cases, producing a noise. Pupation takes approximately two weeks unless the individual is in diapause over winter, in which case the pupal stage takes about nine months. The mechanisms triggering diapause are generally a mixture of genetic triggers, duration of sunlight and temperature. The pupae have chitinous spurs near the base of the forewings. By vigorously moving about within the cocoon, these spurs tear a circular opening from which the imago emerges, the silk of the cocoon having also been weakened by the secretion of cocoonase, a protein-digesting enzyme.