TRR photo by Ed Wesely
Luna moths have wing-spans of up to 4.5 inches. Tails on the hind wings are distinctive, as is a single, small eyespot on each wing. Caterpillars spin a papery cocoon, usually on the ground.
(click for larger image)
Luna moths.This luna moth –the first I’d discovered in many years -- was clinging to a blueberry bush in a local woodland at dusk on May 22. As I accidentally brushed the bush, the moth fell to the ground and began to flex its wings and rhythmically lift its body, perhaps to warm the flight muscles.
A minute later it got airborne and flew awkwardly to the base of a dead sapling, where it felt secure enough to let me approach with a camera
Active mainly at night, lunas depend on feathery antennae to locate others of their species. Adults lack functional mouthparts and digestive organs, so have about a week to mate and lay eggs before their brief tenure is done.
Limited to North America, the luna population has been greatly reduced – “endangered,” according to an Audubon field guide – by chemical pollutants and pesticides, and by the human urge to collect insects.