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
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.