Thursday, October 23, 2014

Luna moth

Found across eastern North America, the Luna Moth (Actias luna) belongs to the family that includes Giant Silkworm Moths. These large moths with wingspans of up to 12 cm appear even larger because of long tails on their hind wings. 

The wings of the Luna Moth are marked by eyespots - an adaptation to scare off potential predators. The eyespots are especially noticeable against the uniform pale green of a Luna Moth's wings.  Another obvious characteristic are the large, feathery antennae. In the male Luna Moth, these receptors are especially large and used to pick up minute traces of pheromones--chemicals released by the female that allow males to track her down in complete darkness.  

The caterpillars, which reach lengths of 8 cm, are voracious eaters that dine on leaves of hickories, walnuts, birches, Common Persimmon, and Sweet Gum.  Like other caterpillars, their multiple mouthparts are well adapted for chewing, and they easily make short work of a tasty leaf.

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