Wild Fact #785 – Green with Envy – Luna Moth

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luna_moth.jpg

So here we are again at the beginning of another week of exciting Wild Facts.  I thought we would start the week off with an insect but don’t worry it is a “pretty” one.  In my humble opinion the Luna Moth is one of the coolest looking moths out there.  Their nice green colour and large size has made the Luna Moth one of the most popular silk moths in North America. I am sure they are so popular that they get hounded by the paparazzi and have their photos landing on the cover of the tabloids.  A famous frog said “it isn’t easy being green” and I bet these moths would agree.  Okay, I am done clowning around, I will move onto the fact now.

The wingspan of the luna moth is about 4 and a half inches which makes it one of the largest moths in North America.  As you may have noticed they have pale green wings that have either pink or yellow margins.  Interestingly enough, it is the Southern moths born in the spring that will have the pink borders while the Northern moths and the Southern individuals born in the summer that have the yellow margins. I guess this explains why all the moths I have witnessed in Ontario had the yellow borders.

The adult luna moths are very strong fliers which makes sense considering the size of their wings.  Although, when they first exit the cocoon it will take them up to two hours to get their wings.  You see when they first emerge their wings are small and soft.  They have to pump bodily fluids to their wings and wait about 2 hours before they are able to fly.  Like a typical silk moth the adult luna moth has no mouth parts and as such, does not feed.  Therefore they will only live for about 1 week in the adult form and during this time their sole purpose is to find a mate. Mating will take place after midnight (I don’t know how they know the time) and the eggs will be laid the following evening.  The eggs will hatch in about a week and the caterpillars will go through about five in-stars before they create their cocoon and start the whole cycle over.  Well, they will start the cycle over in the south where they may have two or three generations.  In the north, however, they only have one generation due to the climate.

Well that is it for the luna moth on this wonderful Monday.  Enjoy the rest of your day!

Photo by Benny Mazur

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