1. Post #1
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts




    That is a Luna Moth. With a wingspan of about 5 inches, it’s one of the biggest moths in the world. It’s also one of the most rad looking ones, too. I found one in my yard 2 weeks back. I looked it up online and discovered that because it didn't have gigantic fluffy antenna, it was a female. I recalled an old news article I read talking about these guys, and how one could obtain eggs from them by simply placing a female into a brown paper bag. So I decided “hey this could be interesting, raising a couple of these” and decided to give it a go. In the first night it laid about 40 eggs. I started looking up articles online to figure out what the final egg amount was likely to be. One site I found listed the Luna Moth as being capable of laying “100-200” eggs. I thought “Whoa that’s a lot” but wanted to give it a shot anyways. I figured it'd probably lay another 60 and that’d be that. Well, the next night the moth laid about 150 more eggs. I started to do some more research online, and this time came across another online article claiming they can lay around 250 eggs, with large ones being capable of exceeding 400 eggs total. I started to realize this had the potential to become quite the task, but went along with it anyways. The next night another 100 were laid. Then another. And then just a few more until finally she laid 412 eggs and showed no sign of laying anymore, so I went ahead and released the moth back outside.

    I waited to make this thread until two things were certain: First that the eggs were even going to hatch, and secondly that they would accept the leaves from the trees I had picked out for them, one that was easy to get leaves from and thus wouldn’t require me to take up tree climbing to even think of obtaining. Well, they started hatching two days ago, and also started eating the food late last night. So now this little experiment of mine can go forward.

    Because the eggs were fertilized as they were laid, they won’t all hatch at once. Which is rather annoying. Over the next few days more and more and more of these caterpillars will begin to emerge. As they grow, things will get easier, as the caterpillars will become easier to keep sight off and harder to lose. But this won’t last, as these caterpillars will eventually reach a pretty massive size. And when you have 400 of them, keeping them fed can become an extreme chore. The only place I can find the leaves that they’ll accept is a 20 minute walk back and forth, and I’ll have to do it each day if I want to keep them alive, twice if I don’t get enough leaves on the first try. But hey, at least I’ll be getting plenty of exercise out of this.

    From here on out, I’ll be keeping track of every stage of this little task. I’ve already got many cages, but I’ll probably have to get many more if I plan on pulling this off. I’ve found the charger to my old video camera as well, so I’ll be sure to make use of it during this. So yeah, on with the thread.



    9/19

    Captured the female Luna Moth outside, flying around the lights on my back porch.



    Placed it into a large brown paper bag.


    9/19-9/24: 412 eggs are laid. Every day just as it starts to get dark outside, the moth starts laying the eggs, while laying still during the day.



    9/28: First batch of eggs has begun to hatch.



    I read online they hatch early in the morning. These decided to hatch at 4 in the afternoon.

    I went out and got them some leaves from a sweet gum tree, but they seemed more interested in just crawling everywhere. After about 6 hours they finally settled down and started eating. Each new batch would do this at first, resulting in caterpillars being pretty much all over the place whenever a new batch hatches.

    During my research online I found that keeping caterpillars this small indoors is a huge risk. The humidity levle inside of a persons home is far less than the humidity levels outside. This could dry out and kill the caterpillars. Because of this, I'll be keeping them outside, at least until they get big.

    9/29: Second batch hatches. And then the third one too oddly enough.
    The caterpillars from the first batch are already twice the size of the new ones.



    9/30: More hatching. More eating. More growing. The first ones continue to grow bigger.

    Because of this whole "The new batch likes to crawl around everywhere while the older ones just eat" routine they do, opening the cage to clean it or put in new food becomes a pain since many will try and wander off.




    In about 5 days the first batch will shed their skin, growing a great deal. If I remember right, they'll shed every week, 5 times before turning into a pupa.

    10/01: Next to last batch has hatched. I'm surprised at how many of the eggs are hatching. Only about 5 or so have failed to hatch, these having deflated. I've found that i can actually hear when they are hatching, as you can hear the sounds of them chewing through the shells. this proved helpful in determining when all that had hatched for today were finished.

    10/02: Final Batch has hatched. Was only about 10 caterpillars. I'm surprised just how many of the eggs hatched, I wasn't expecting all of them to have been fertilized but apparently they were. Only about 5 didn't hatch, those eggs having deflated. I had the final batch of eggs sitting on my desk, and went to go get a drink, but got distracted for about an hour and forgot about them. When I remembered and came back I found two more of the eggs had hatched, but only one caterpillar was there. I searched my desk and only by extreme luck did I find the other one sitting on a flashlight at the back of the desk.



    10/03: Cleaned the cage again today and found about 18 dead on the bottom under the leaves. Adding on the dead ones I found last time I cleaned the cage that brings the death count up to about 40. The night before i made sure all the caterpillras were on the new leaves, but it seems there were still some that just refused to eat and simply died. Seems to be only newly hatched ones, as the ones from the first batches are still growing larger. This is about what I expected to happen, there's no way that all 412 would have actually made it to moths.

    Sometimes about 30 or so of them will wander off to the top of the cage while all the others are sitting on the leaves below. I've found an easy solution to get them back to the leaves by simply turning the cage upsidedown. Once they get bigger they'll be crawling laps around the cage with ease, but until then I'll just keep shifting the cage around to make sure they're all near the leaves.


    10/04: I've come to the conclusion that the reason for the 40 losses was due to the huge amount of poop these guys have started putting out. They're covering the bottom of the cage with it, and this could perhaps be what killed some, as they could get tangled up in it and not be able to go anywhere.

    So I've decided it's time to start dividing them up. I put half of them into a new cage, and as an added precaution against any further deaths, I'm going to start cleaning the cage out twice daily. This should work.




    10/05: They've started to shed their skin and enter the second enstar, a term that refers to the stages of growth in between sheddings. There will be five stages in all.




    10/12: Third Enstar now.





    10/14: Some of them are getting pretty huge but there's still a few that are extremely small. I guess thats just the difference five days of growth makes.




    11/09:

    Been awhile since my last update. Been busy, but now I have time to update this again. I also broke my old camera, but i guess that was really for the best since i had been putting off getting a new one for almost a year now. So yeah, I'm down to about 120. And it's really for the best as I can barely even manage that. I have the small ones in 6 small plastic containers, and medium-big ones are in a giant plastic tub with 11 cups of leaves, and the largest ones are in their own seperate netted container. There's about 20 small, 80 medium, and 20 large.



    Here's a picture of one shedding. Quality isn't that great, wasn't my camera, but whatever



    I ran into an odd problem a week back: One of the small ones cocooned. I'm not sure why, but for awhile i suspected they were all going to cocoon regardless of if they are full sized are not, but so far that doesn't seem to be the case as only about 6 others have cocooned, and they were all pretty much full sized. What does this mean about the small one that coccooned? I have no idea. He'll either die in the cocoon, or turn into a mini-luna moth. One neat fact about them is what they do when they are ready to cocoon: They turn gold.



    Which makes it really easy to know when i need to seperate them so they can get to work.

    I'm having to take a back-pack with me to the site where the trees are, and stuff it full of leaves. But even that will only do me for one feeding. They're eating machines.



    But they still pause every now and then to just sorta, sit there, for a little bit





    Also, luna moths are no longer the only thing I'm taking care of. While cutting down a branch for the lunas, I came across both a snake, and something else:





    It's an imperial caterpillar, and from what I can tell, it's one of the largest caterpillars in the world.



    It was near ready to cocoon when I found it, so I went ahead and kept it. After a few days, it turned colors and cocooned.



    Too bad I didn't have my new camera for those four pics.

    Also what I find most interesting about this guy is the cocoon.



    The designs on it appear to mimic the head of the moth that will emerge from it. That's rad.





    11/10:
    They turn bright red just before cocooning.


    Then they grab a bunch of leaves and roll themselves a cocoon, using the silk they put out to hold it all together:



    11/23:
    Down to the final 10 caterpillars. Never had more than 4 or 5 cocoon each day.



    Also finally recorded some videos of the caterpillars


    11/30:
    While i was trying to find a more specific time frame online for these guys, I came across a site claiming the caterpillars need to be exposed to cold temperatures for a few days prior to cocooning in order to over winter. If this claim is true, then I'd say about 20-40 of the cocoons I have now, potentially including the imperial cocoon, are shit out of luck as I was unable to leave them out in the cold during the times they cocooned.

    Guess we have to wait and see.

    12/07:
    The final caterpillar cocooned. I've been checking up on the status of the cocoons weekly, and they seem to be doing great. The imperial still responds to any disturbance, and that's the best way to tell if a pupa is alive or not. As for if he's going to over winter or hatch early and die, it's been 41 days since he's pupated. Luna's take 2-3 weeks to hatch, so it's safe to assume the imperial is overwinering properly.

    As for the lunas, I picked three cocoons out to test. One from the first batch to cocoon, one from in the middle, and one from the last batch to cocoon. After rolling them around and picking at the leaves on the cocoon, all three responded and began squirming about inside the leafy mass.

    So far so good. I found a website claiming lunas hatch after 2 to 3 weeks in the cocoon, so if three weeks from today they're all still in the cocoon it's safe to assume they're overwintering.


    2/22:

    It got warm, and still the luna pupas were showing no signs of life, except for like, 1. I started to think they were all dead, but then



    oh hi


    10 just hatched. I tried to get some pictures of all of them together but this proved impossible. Upon moving one, he would only lay still for about a minute before getting hyper. And when i put him back in with the others, a pinball effect occured, in which he bumped into all the others started a chain reaction of hyper moths. I got a few pics though, but eventually had to release them all. I need some sort of glass cage, taking a picture through the netting wasn't really good.

    6 male, 4 female. 1 very large male, 1 very large female, the others are big but not as big as those two, who are equal in size to the mother moth. Hopefully the rest will start to hatch soon now.

    Here's a pic of the biggest female moth that emerged with this batch. Was trying to take a picture of it resting in my hand but it attempted to fly away as the photo took. The result shows you the way their wings are arranged when in flight, which is cool.



    The Imperial Pupa is still very much alive and responsive. Should be hatching soon.

    2/23:

    figured out what time they hatch based on the last two batches.


    He was really odd looking, with super small yellow wings



    And he apparently still had a caterpillary body



    He was climbing alot, always trying to go up. he passed by a luna moth that hatched about 30-40 minutes earlier



    His wings started to grow, and change colors



    He needed a good place to hang from while the blood circulated into his wings, so I gave him one





    And eventually he was ready to go







    3/01:
    5 more hatched today after about a week of no hatchings. Here's the tally so far:

    10 - 6 male 4 female
    4 - 2 male and 2 female
    2 - 1 male 1 female
    5 - 3 male 2 female

    I did a time lapse of one growing out it's wings to see what it looked like. It was pretty damn surreal. I'm going to try and get more videos like this. This one came out alright but could have been much better with better lighting and angles.



    3/02:
    Lots of updates today.

    Had 10 hatch all at once today.


    Here's a cocoon starting to tear open



    By looking closely at them as they worked there way out i figured out how they cut open the cocoon. They have two, small, dark, fang-like objects on the left and right behind the base of their head. They work these side to side to cut it open.



    Once it's wide enough, they just pop out



    I had this guys cocoon propped up a bit so I could get the light on it better. When he popped out though the cocoon toppled over sideways (he didn't land on his face though) but i still got a rather funny picture of him falling over to the side after emerging





    Here's a close up shot of the antenna of a male luna moth




    And finally, another time lapse video of three growing out their wings until my camera run out of film (ffffuck)


    3/08:
    10 - 6 male 4 female
    4 - 2 male and 2 female
    2 - 1 male 1 female
    5 - 3 male 2 female
    3 - 2 male 1 female
    19 - 10 male 9 female


    3/09:
    11 more hatched today. 5 female 6 male

    Their wings have neat designs



    Kinda looks like a single leaf hanging from a tree.

    Also good thing about having tons of lunas, is plenty of second chances to get that picture you wanted.



    It's like he's checking to make sure the coast is clear before he



    bursts out to freedom

    3/10
    10 - 6 male 4 female
    4 - 2 male and 2 female
    2 - 1 male 1 female
    5 - 3 male 2 female
    3 - 2 male 1 female
    19 - 10 male 9 female
    11 - 6 male 5 female
    9 - 2 male 7 female


    3/17
    10 - 6 male 4 female
    4 - 2 male and 2 female
    2 - 1 male 1 female
    5 - 3 male 2 female
    3 - 2 male 1 female
    19 - 10 male 9 female
    11 - 6 male 5 female
    9 - 2 male 7 female
    12 - 8 male 4 female
    8 - 4 male 4 female
    4 - 1 male 3 female
    2 - 1 male 1 female
    1 - 1 male
    2 - 2 female



    The problem here is I think I might have forgotten to give the count a final update and missed a few for the final tally as a result. But for the most part this final count should be pretty accurate:

    FINAL COUNT: 92 RAISED SUCCESSFULLY

    VIDEOS:

    Here's some hatching. Third video is in fast forward btw

    Here's one eating

    And here's one hatching from his cocoon.


    TIME LAPSE VIDEOS:




    FINAL UPDATE:


    What happened with the imperial? Did it ever hatch?
    Sorry, but no happy ending here. He was apparently parasitized prior to my finding him, thats the problem with giant caterpillars who spend awhile in the caterpillar stage like that, they're hard to miss and stick around for awhile, so wasps have a good chance of finding them.

    I found a crack and small chip in the shell of the pupa few weeks back. Shined a light in and didn't see anything good, so I opened him up and found three or four wasp cocoons inside of what was left of him. It's pretty neat to see the way these wasps work, even if I only see it when they fuck up the caterpillars i raised. Still, I'm not about to promote a population of them around my house, so I squished 'em


    I found a large Imperial moth on my porch few nights back as well, but due to the fact I'm gonna be leaving soon I didn't try catching it. Maybe next year.



    If you guys want some happier news to end on, I found a large polyphemus moth sitting on my front porch awhile back. It was a female so i put it in a paper bag and get some eggs like before with the Luna, only this time I kept just a few. Well, at least i tried to. Interrupting a moth while it's laying eggs proved to be a very bad idea, it went fucking crazy and even latched onto my hand and started laying eggs on my fingers fff so i ended up with a few more eggs than I wanted. I ended up with 15 cocoons in the end and they've been hatching every other day now. Trying to be there when they hatch, but unlike the lunas who hatched at the crack of dawn, these have been hatching at any time from noon to 4 pm, and I've only got about 6 cocoons left so it's unlikely I'll catch it. Still, here's some pics of them





    Something really neat that happened was that prior to finding the moth and getting the eggs, i found a near full grown caterpillar outside on a tree. The result was I had newly hatched caterpillars at the exact same time as a fully grown caterpillar, which was rather awesome to see






    and here's what they turned in to



    MORE PICS:


    Missed a polyphemus moth hatching by about 30 seconds. oh well








    And I was also taking care of some cecropia caterpillars while raising them


    But I wasn't going to be in town when they hatched so I just had to let them go after they cocooned. This is what they turn in to


    Expect a new caterpillar thread with something much larger very soon...
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  2. Post #2
    Gold Member
    TomGun's Avatar
    January 2006
    130 Posts
    Wow. This is awesome!! But what would you do when they all grow up to max size?
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  3. Post #3
    Gold Member
    Dennab
    January 2009
    1,041 Posts
    snip

    Anyway good luck, make sure to release them all at once, take pictures.
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  4. Post #4
    Gold Member
    Overworld's Avatar
    February 2007
    1,642 Posts
    Looks like you won't need to get the hickory leaves after all.
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  5. Post #5
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    Wow. This is awesome!! But what would you do when they all grow up to max size?
    As caterpillars? Currently they're all in one cage. Being as small as they are, and their tendency to wander, i thougt this was the best choice. But when they all start to get huge, i'm going to divide them up amongst various cages.
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  6. Post #6
    Victor Leferve's Avatar
    March 2009
    990 Posts
    They are beautiful.

    You must be into entomology yes?
    I myself am a budding coleopeterologist.
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  7. Post #7
    Fentoozler's Avatar
    June 2009
    108 Posts
    How are you going to feed them
    breast feeding, its the only way
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  8. Post #8
    gringamouse's Avatar
    September 2009
    428 Posts
    that moth in the first pic looks badass
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  9. Post #9
    I like the news
    Dennab
    July 2009
    3,373 Posts
    Gross
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  10. Post #10
    Gold Member
    nater's Avatar
    July 2007
    1,339 Posts
    Reminds me of the episode of Malcom in the Middle where Reese falls in love with a box full of moths.
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  11. Post #11
    fuck you
    Dysentery's Avatar
    February 2009
    2,883 Posts
    Goddamn, all of your threads about animals/insects are so awesome.
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  12. Post #12
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    How are you going to feed them
    There's a spot ~10 minutes from my house, where sweet gum trees grow. Only place near by I can find them. I'm taking daily hikes there to get the food for them.

    I could have used the hickory trees nearby, but, fuck, those branches are 50 feet up in the air.



    Sweet gum trees are awesome btw. The leaves smell fantastic.
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  13. Post #13
    ssa gib A's Avatar
    February 2009
    3,696 Posts
    They look delicious, postal.
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  14. Post #14
    Gold Member
    Honkers101's Avatar
    July 2007
    283 Posts
    Your Luna Moth is beautiful, and I can't wait until they metamorphose into adults.

    Keep us up to date!
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  15. Post #15
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    Your Luna Moth is beautiful, and I can't wait until they metamorphose into adults.

    Keep us up to date!
    Due to winter approaching, you'll have to wait until next spring for them to turn into moths. They're going to pupate now before winter, stay that way over winter, then hatch in time for spring.
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  16. Post #16
    Scum
    Linelor's Avatar
    February 2008
    1,359 Posts
    Badass. I tried to do something like that when I was a kid with some kind of moth that was like the largest in North America. I found a caterpillar and did the best I can but it died while it was making the cocoon.
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  17. Post #17
    NovembrDobby's Avatar
    April 2007
    1,147 Posts
    why do they lay eggs when put in a paper bag?
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  18. Post #18
    Gold Member
    venn177's Avatar
    January 2007
    5,383 Posts
    postal you are amazing
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  19. Post #19
    Gold Member
    Bredirish123's Avatar
    October 2006
    9,205 Posts
    Oh wow, they looks beautiful. I can't wait to see the final outcome in the Spring.
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  20. Post #20
    Gold Member
    Foda's Avatar
    April 2006
    2,734 Posts
    you should use experimental mind control and raise AN ARMY OF DEADLY LUNA MOTHS!!
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  21. Post #21
     
    ijyt's Avatar
    May 2006
    8,988 Posts
    how are you going to feed them
    Jesus christ.

    Anywho, I'll repeat what I said on Steam, that's one beautiful moth. And the catepillars are hilariously cute.
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  22. Post #22
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    Badass. I tried to do something like that when I was a kid with some kind of moth that was like the largest in North America. I found a caterpillar and did the best I can but it died while it was making the cocoon.
    I had the exact same thing happen to me as a kid. It was a hickory horned devil, and it failed to pupate properly. Pretty lame.


    Also, largest in North America? I think that would be the Cecropia Moth.
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  23. Post #23
    dgg
    I ‚̧ Angel Beats
    dgg's Avatar
    October 2005
    26,152 Posts
    Now that's what I call a kickass project. Keep us up to date everytime something interesting happens.
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  24. Post #24
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    you should use experimental mind control and raise AN ARMY OF DEADLY LUNA MOTHS!!
    I was actually thinking of just tying them all to a coat and having them fly me around town.
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  25. Post #25
    Gold Member
    Cheezy's Avatar
    October 2005
    1,497 Posts
    That's really cool, won't it be a bother keeping 400+ flying insects in your house though?

    Also, those larvae pictures remind me of starcraft..
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  26. Post #26
    GMOD ftw's Avatar
    November 2008
    1,651 Posts
    I was actually thinking of just tying them all to a coat and having them fly me around town.
    lol
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  27. Post #27
    Gold Member
    Overworld's Avatar
    February 2007
    1,642 Posts
    I was actually thinking of just tying them all to a coat and having them fly me around town.
    that's better than my idea of a moth ball maze.
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  28. Post #28
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    That's really cool, won't it be a bother keeping 400+ flying insects in your house though?

    Also, those larvae pictures remind me of starcraft..
    I'm not going to keep them when they turn into moths. I'll release them the second they turn.
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  29. Post #29
    Gold Member
    iamgnome's Avatar
    June 2006
    926 Posts
    You've done the moth world a service
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  30. Post #30
    Gold Member
    Wingedwizard's Avatar
    October 2007
    7,106 Posts
    I'm not going to keep them when they turn into moths. I'll release them the second they turn.
    You should keep all 400, then gather them up and release em on a random pedestrian.
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  31. Post #31
    Gold Member
    Cheezy's Avatar
    October 2005
    1,497 Posts
    I'm not going to keep them when they turn into moths. I'll release them the second they turn.
    Ah, I thought you'd keep them all in a room much like Fritzl.
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  32. Post #32
    Umi-hebi's Avatar
    September 2009
    3,036 Posts
    How did you count that exactly
    You sure that you're not off by one or two
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  33. Post #33
    Gold Member
    gokulol's Avatar
    March 2005
    572 Posts
    How are Luna Moths not the biggest? I swear there was one of those fuckers on my door one night, and it took up the width of it. Scared the shit out of me.
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  34. Post #34
    Gold Member
    aznz888's Avatar
    September 2005
    3,882 Posts
    That's fucking awesome. Pick out a few specific ones with some qualities you like and name them :v
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  35. Post #35
    ssa gib A's Avatar
    February 2009
    3,696 Posts
    What do they taste like?
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  36. Post #36
    Moo
    Gold Member
    Dennab
    July 2005
    934 Posts
    wat about dogs??
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  37. Post #37
    Gold Member
    StupidUsername67's Avatar
    August 2007
    3,751 Posts
    equip each and every one of them with lasers. then proceed to conquer the world.
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  38. Post #38
    Stay Rusty
    postal's Avatar
    April 2005
    11,945 Posts
    How did you count that exactly
    You sure that you're not off by one or two
    Very slowly.
    I could still be off by one or two though.
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  39. Post #39
    Gold Member
    Wingedwizard's Avatar
    October 2007
    7,106 Posts
    Tag a few, And see where they go.
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  40. Post #40
    Gold Member
    Dr Nick's Avatar
    November 2007
    3,906 Posts
    You should set them free inside a building when they're fully grown!
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