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Common Name: Luna moth

Scientific Name: Actias luna (Linnaeus) 

Order: Lepidoptera

 Photos Taken May 27, 2010


Luna Moth On Brick Column

Luna Moth Close Up


Luna Moth
Actias luna

Luna Moths are members of the Saturniidae family, also known as the "Giant Silkworm Moths."

Luna Moths are huge moths, with a wingspan of four and a half inches. They have a white body, pinkish legs, and huge pale green wings. The hind wings have eyespots and long tails.  The wings have
pink-purple or yellow forewing margins

They fly, only at night, in Spring and early Summer.

The female Luna Moth lays eggs on the bottom of Black Walnut leaves. She lays about 200 eggs in small groups.
You can tell a male from a female, because males have larger, bushier antennae.

Once the eggs are laid, it takes about 10 days for them to hatch. Caterpillars begin eating as soon as they leave the egg. They eat leaves from many different trees and shrubs, including: Sweetgum, American Beech, Red Maple, hickories, White Oak, Black Cherry, willows, American Chestnut, and Smooth Sumac. The caterpillars will continue to eat and grow, molting their skins as they grow. They will do this five times over a period of three to four weeks.

When the caterpillar is fully grown, it will be 2 1/2 inches long and ready to become a pupa. It will spin silk from near its mouth and wrap itself in a leaf. The caterpillar will usually stay in this cocoon for two to three weeks. If it is near winter, the caterpillar will wait until Spring to hatch.

When the adult Luna Moth leaves its cocoon, it is not ready to fly. Its wings are short and stumpy and the insect needs to rest. It usually hatches in mid-morning and climbs a tree trunk to hang its wings, so they can fill with blood. Once the wings are inflated, the adult moth will wait until nightfall to fly off to find a mate.

Adult Luna Moths don't eat; in fact, they don't even have a mouth. They only live for about a week, and their only purpose is to mate. Female Luna Moths release a chemical at night which attracts males. Adults die shortly after mating or laying eggs. Usually, two generations are born each year (that means that moths that spent the winter in a cocoon will hatch, mate, and lay eggs; then their children will hatch, mate, and lay eggs which will hatch and make cocoons for the Winter).

Luna Moths were once very common, but are now considered an endangered species in some areas.



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