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Luna Moth

Luna Moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus), is arguably our most beautiful moth.

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Luna Moths are translucent light green with a pale yellow horizontal line along each side and reddish-orange fleshy knobs (tubercles) on each body segment. They grow to be 2 3/4 inches long.

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 hindwings have eyespots and long tails.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.

Luna moth have chewing mouthparts. Adults have siphoning mouths. Caterpillars feed on leaves of walnut, hickory, sweetgum, maple, oak, persimmon, willow and other trees. Adults can be attracted to lights, or males can be attracted to an imprisoned female. All colors will fade in preserved specimens when exposed to light. Mated female luna moths can be caged over a food plant on which she will deposit eggs.

The single-layered cocoon is wrapped in leaves. The dark brown, posterior end of the obtect (wings and appendages are appressed to the body – most abdominal segments are immovable) pupa is anchored to a pad of silk at the rear of the cocoon by a cremaster (hooked spines) which allows the adult to emerge from the pupal exoskeleton.

Life Cycle: luna moth exhibits a pheromone mating system. This ability to attract distant males via chemical communication is found in all female saturniids. Undeterred by obstacles such as leaves and branches, the male moths will persistently follow the scent trail of a female. Then the female will typically mate with the first male to reach her. Since the luna moth is a nocturnal species, mating usually occurs in the first hours after midnight.

luna moth larvae

luna moth larvae

If the pair is undisturbed then they will remain in copula until the next evening, but the slightest disturbance can cause separation. After the separation of the pair, then ovipostion will begin and continue for several nights. A female luna moth will seek a host plant in which to oviposit. Some populations of luna moths complete more than one generation in a year.

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