01 August 2014
I found this big fellow hustling across the grass under a walnut tree. He had apparently fallen or been dislodged from the foliage above. He would have made a tasty meal for a bird, so I brought him home and placed him in a terrarium with some walnut leaves.
That same night he spun a cocoon. This late in the summer I wondered if he was going to enter diapause until next spring, but the transformation to a moth required only about ten days, and one morning I walked out to our screen porch to find this handsome Actias luna (Luna moth) drying his new wings. That evening he flew away over the treetops.
The complex structure of the antennae identified him as a male, superbly adapted to detect minute quantities of pheromones in the air and track them along their gradient to a female.
Sadly, this beautiful and magnificent creature will live only about one week. It has no mouth parts and thus cannot feed, surviving only on energy stored during the caterpillar stage. The moth is really just nature's way of making more caterpillars.