Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Luna Moth

This lime green beauty was found by my brother up at his place in the woods. Actually he found the cocoon first and then kept an eye on it until it hatched. Luna moths (Actias luna)are mostly nocturnal (mostly active at night) and are among some of the largest moths found in the U.S. with wingspans of 3-4 inches. The female lays anywhere from 100-300 very tiny eggs on the underside of leaves and they take anywhere from 10-14 days to hatch. Once the caterpillar hatches it begins its constant feeding on the leaves of hickory, walnut, persimmon, and sweet gum trees for about 3-4 weeks. Once the caterpillar is fully grown it starts looking for a proper place to cocoon. The cocoon is formed from silk that is produced from a hole near its mouth and once done it pulls a leaf around the cocoon and then metamorphosis begins.
About a week later the pupa is formed that contains the developing moth and three weeks later to begins erupting from its incubation chamber. Once it has fully exited the pupa shell it allows its wings to dry and then flies into the night to mate. Get this….adult luna moths have no mouthparts- they do not eat, and unfortunately they only live for about a week meaning their one and only purpose in life is to mate.

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