Monday, September 26, 2011

Luna Moth In New Brunswick

Photo by Lilly

 To most people, moths don’t rouse the same admiration as butterflies do. That is, of course, until you see a luna moth -“Actias Luna”. They have a wingspan of 10 cm or more, (4.5 inches), and are a sight to behold, with their long trailing hindwing tails, an eyespot on each of their wings, and their beautiful lime-green colour. I was fortunate to have this fellow on our deck for approx 7 days  - and oooooh, so beautiful J
Found in Canada from the Maritime provinces west to Manitoba, luna moths make their homes among deciduous trees.

Photo by Lilly

As adults, luna moths have one purpose — to reproduce. In fact, they don’t even have a mouth for feeding. They survive on stored fat from when they were a caterpillar and live only for a week.


 Active at night, the adult female releases a pheromone to attract males. Males use their sensitive antennae to smell this scent. The first male to reach a female is the one she typically mates with. Once mating is complete, the female lays an average of 200 eggs in small clusters on the undersides of leaves of trees such as white birch, hickory, walnut, willow, maple and oak. The female dies shortly after laying her eggs, while the male may live a bit longer to fertilize more females.

Moth Female Pupa

Moth Hatching Catepillar

About 10 days after being laid, the eggs hatch into caterpillars. Luna moth caterpillars are green with short hairs, a yellow stripe along each side, red knobs, and a brown or green head. They eagerly feed on the vegetation in which they emerged, and after a week they moult their skin. In total, they go through five larval stages, each lasting about a week. When they reach a length of 8 cm, these caterpillars enter the pupal stage. They often fall to the ground and then make a cocoon by spinning silk and wrapping themselves in a leaf. This is how they remain — well camouflaged — for two to three weeks.

Spinning a Cacoon

Mating Adults

When the adult luna moth emerges from the cocoon, it crawls onto a tree. Unable to fly, it rests while its wings fill with blood. Once night falls, the luna moth is ready to fly off to find a mate.