Actias luna

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Luna Moth
Actias luna, adult
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Saturniidae
Genus: Actias
Species: A. luna
Binomial name
Actias luna
Linnaeus, 1758

The Luna Moth (Actias luna) is a species of moth. It belongs in the family Saturniidae. The Luna Moth is thought to be North America's most beautiful insect.[1]

Description[change | change source]

The Luna Moth has a wingspan of 7.5 to 10.5 cm. The wings are lime-green. The bottom wings have long tails. There is a clear spot on each wing. There is a reddish-brown border on the top edge of the top wing. Some individuals have pinkish borders on the outer edge of both wings. Other individuals have yellowish borders instead. Adult Luna Moths have sharp mouths parts and will bite if provoked. In this case, seek medical attention immediately, as a small amount of toxin can be released into the bloodstream causing temporary blindness, and in rare occasions impotence. [2][3] They live by the fat they stored up at the larval stage. Because of this, they only live for about one week.[4]

Distribution[change | change source]

The Luna Moth is found in North America. It is found from Nova Scotia, west to North Dakota, south to Texas, and east to Florida.[3]

Habitat[change | change source]

The Luna Moth is found in habitats such as woodlands and forests.[1]

Flight period[change | change source]

The Luna Moth is seen from May to July in the northern part of its range. It is seen from March to September in the southern part of its range.[2]

Life cycle[change | change source]

Luna Moth

The Luna Moth's eggs are brown. The caterpillar is green. It has bright red spots on its body. There are two yellow stripes that run down each side of the body. The caterpillar will grow to 6.5 cm long. The Luna Moth caterpillar is similar to the Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) caterpillar. The Polyphemus Moth caterpillar does not have the yellow stripes on its body.[1] The Luna Moth's cocoon is made of dead leaves on the ground. It overwinters (spends the winter) as a cocoon. The Luna Moth has one brood (a brood is a group of offspring) each year in the northern part of its range. It has three broods each year in the southern part of its range.[2]

Food plants[change | change source]

The caterpillars feed on the following host plants:[1][3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 David L. Wagner (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-12144-3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Charles V. Covell, Jr. (2005). Moths of Eastern North America. Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville, VA. ISBN 1-884549-21-7
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Butterflies and Moths of North America". http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=3292. Retrieved 2010-2-26.
  4. Hazel Davies and Carol A. Butler (2008). Do Butterflies Bite?: Fascinating Answers to Questions About Butterflies and Moths pp24–25. Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, NJ. ISBN 978-0-8135-4268-3