07 June 2022

Actias Luna

This Luna moth eclosed from his pupa this week after spending the winter on our unheated screen porch.  Luna moth caterpillars feed on tree leaves (birch, hickory, walnut, and persimmon), and the cocoons fall to the ground when the leaves do.  I added a wire grid to the terrarium so the moth would have an easy way to climb out of the litter to let the wings expand and harden.  During the winter and early spring I misted the cocoon/pupa with water whenever it was snowing or raining so that the little critter wouldn't dehydrate.

Note that fat little belly.  Luna moths have only  vestigial mouthparts, do not drink nectar or any other food.  They can live only so long as that fat stored in their abdomen lasts.  So the adult moth is on an urgent mission to mate ASAP.

Here's the dorsal view after I transferred him to the porch screen to get some sun.  That this is a male is evidenced by the elaborate antennae -

- capable of detecting single pheromone molecules in the air.  He can then somehow navigate the increasing concentrations of molecules upwind to locate females several miles away.

The delicate double "tail" is not aerodynamically necessary; some have postulated that it serves to confuse the echolocation abilities of bats, to whom a fat-belliled Luna moth is just a big flying Oreo cookie. 


  1. Wow ! Wonderful.
    "Imagine if we humans had somehow evolved along similar lines, you know, stuffing our faces as caterpillars and then, after a brief 'lockdown', fervently flying around on our decorated wings, searching for a hot chick, a moth-er for our future kids" he said, laying out the basic plot of his next sci-fi/horror/nature movie.

  2. Cool pics! Thanks!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...