Adult luna moth lives up to 10 days

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The luna moth is a large nocturnal insect most often seen flying near an outside light at night.Its general appearance resembles a butterfly and its general color is green.A reddish border on the front edges of the forewings runs across the top of its body behind its head.There are single eye-spots on each of its four wings.The eyespot on each forewing often looks like a short tree limb with a bud at the end.

In its winged adult stage the luna moth lives no more than 10 days and does not eat.Its only purpose at this stage is to mate and reproduce.It will not bite you.

The moth I photographed here is a female.Males have a much more featherlike antennae.This is the only visual way to tell male from female. The female can lay 200 or more eggs, depositing them on the undersides of living tree leaves.When these eggs hatch, hungry little green caterpillars with rows of black dots along their backs will emerge and eat the leaves.

The beautiful luna moth is arguably the most exotic-looking moth native to North America.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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