Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Luna Moth Actias luna

Now do you see why I love these things? I swear these are the most beautiful moths.....Uraniids can go and join them too ( more on those gorgeous moths later ).

Now I'm also pretty sure that there's folklore ( as I mentioned earlier ) on these but I'm going to have go and look it up. For now we get "down and dirty" on the life of these beauties. Although there's nothing dirty about them.

As you know Luna moths and Moon moths in general don't live long ( which is a shame ) but during the time that they are here they're solely focused on one thing: Reproducing.

Wikipedia ( again :P ) goes into it more. Enjoy!

Based on the climate in which they live, the Luna Moths produce differing numbers of generations. In Canada and northern regions, they can live up to 7 days and will produce only one generation per year. These reach adulthood from early June to early July.

In the northeastern United Sates around New Jersey or New York, the moths produce two generations each year. The first of these appear in April and May, and the second group can be seen approximately nine to eleven weeks later. In the southern United States, there can be as many as three generations. These are spaced every eight to ten weeks beginning in March.

Female Luna Moths lay 100–300 eggs, 4–7 eggs at a time, on the underside of leaves, and they incubate for eight to thirteen days. The moths will lay more eggs in a favorable climate.

Each instar generally takes about five days to a week to complete. After hatching, the caterpillars tend to wander around before finally settling on eating the particular plant they are on. These caterpillars tend to be gregarious for the first two to three instars, but separate and live independently after that.

As with all Saturniids, these caterpillars go through five instars before cocooning. At the end of each instar, a small amount of silk is placed on the major vein of a leaf and undergoes apolysis. The caterpillar then undergoes ecdysis, or molts from that position leaving the old exoskeleton behind. Sometimes the shed exoskeleton is eaten. Each instar is green, though the first two instars do have some variation in which some caterpillars will have black underlying splotches on their dorsal side. Variation after the second instar is still noticeable, but slight.

The dots that run along the dorsal side of the caterpillars vary from a light yellow to a dark magenta. The final instar grows to approximately nine centimeters in length.

The Luna Moth pupates after spinning a cocoon. The cocoon is thin and single layered. Shortly before pupation, the final, fifth instar caterpillar will engage in a "gut dump" where any excess water and fluids are expelled.

The caterpillar will also have an underlying golden reddish brown color and become somewhat immobile. As pupa, this species is particularly active. When disturbed, the moth will wiggle loudly. Pupation takes approximately two weeks unless the individual is diapuasing. The mechanisms for diapause are generally a mixture of genetic triggers, duration of sunlight or direct light during the day, and temperature.

Adults enclose, or emerge from their cocoons in the morning. Their wings are very small when they first emerge and they must enlarge them by pumping bodily fluids through them. During this time, their wings will be soft and they must climb somewhere safe to wait for their wings to harden before they can fly away. This process takes about 2 hours to complete.

The Luna Moth has a wingspan of 8–11.5 cm (3.1–4.5 in) with long, tapering hindwings, which have eyespots on them in order to confuse potential predators. Although rarely seen due to their very brief (1 week) adult lives, Luna Moths are considered common.

As with all Saturniidae, the adults do not eat or have mouths. They emerge as adults solely to mate, and as such, only live approximately one week. They are more commonly seen at night.

Perhaps this is why I haven't seen them. I know that in order to do so I'd have to go to the Bronx Zoo Butterfly Exhibit but I don't think I'll be able to go......but I hope by some miracle that I'll get to go and I get to see one.

Because I know that I won't see one around here. There might be some in Central park though. If I go anytime soon I'll keep my eyes open.

Since this is a long enough post already I'll make what ever folklore I find on them a separate post. So until next time!

I don't think this series is quite over just yet. Let's see what else I find.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We live just outside of Palestine, Texas, and the last two days we have seen many luna moths. They are absolutely beautiful and there are more this year than we have ever seen. Last night we saw over 12 of them fluttering around the yard light.

Unknown said...

Saw a beautiful male perched on a black walnut tree on the side yard as I was mowing the grass.He was very spectacular lime green with purple blotch markings upon his thorax. I coaxed him onto my hand. To my surprise he secreted a unknown liquid from an unknown orifice from his underbelly. So I sat him down on the lawn and went inside to wash off my hand. I came back out to show Rhonda, yet I had trouble relocating his position in the grass.i returned to mowing and saw him still waiting there. I gathered him up and replaced him on the rough texture of the walnut and called Rhonda over for a look see. Wish I could post an image!

Justin Cousino said...

Saw a beautiful male perched on a black walnut tree on the side yard as I was mowing the grass.He was very spectacular lime green with purple blotch markings upon his thorax. I coaxed him onto my hand. To my surprise he secreted a unknown liquid from an unknown orifice from his underbelly. So I sat him down on the lawn and went inside to wash off my hand. I came back out to show Rhonda, yet I had trouble relocating his position in the grass.i returned to mowing and saw him still waiting there. I gathered him up and replaced him on the rough texture of the walnut and called Rhonda over for a look see. Wish I could post an image!