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Old 06-01-2009, 07:02 PM   #1
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Default Found a Luna Moth

Though not a butterfly I think it's just as pretty. I discovered a Luna Moth while leaving work last night. It was under the parking lot lights and I've herd this "light pollution" is contributing to the decline of our giant silk moths. Also I don't have photos of this particular species so I brought it home as carefully as I could. Took some shots and let it go. (Bare in mind I can vouch that one of it's wings was busted before hand.) To my delight it was still able to fly when I was done.

Pic 2 (tried to correct color)

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Found a Luna Moth-lunamoth2.jpg   Found a Luna Moth-lunamoth4.jpg   Found a Luna Moth-lunamoth3.jpg   Found a Luna Moth-lunamoth.jpg  
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
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This moth is beautiful. . .

I'm wondering about our North American moth populations. When I was a kid (I was born in 1956) I lived in a rural area (Maryland). Every night in the summer, when we had the indoor lights on, I would see dozens of moths against the windows, many different species. Some were huge (as big as an adult's hand), some very tiny.

By the mid-seventies, they would still come to the windows, but in greatly diminished numbers. By the mid-eighties, hardly any. Now I live in northern Minnesota, and I rarely see any at night, but I don't know what it was like 45 years ago here. Still, it seems ominous to me.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:42 PM   #3
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That is my favorite moth up here in Michigan. I too as a child had the privilage of seeing them nightly. As you said they rapidly declined. I blame it on all of those bug zappers people use at night to kill the mosquitoes. They ought to out law those!

I think your luna was damaged during, or right after her journey out of her cocoon. The wing damage looks equil on both sides like it may have gotten stuck emerging or caught on something before her wings were able to dry and expand!
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:54 PM   #4
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How beautiful! I have never seen one in person. What are their host plants? I would say that loss of hosts has had a huge impact on moths and butterflies. I also wonder about what the gypsy moth spraying programs are doing. I know GMs are bad, but I'm sure what they are spraying isn't species specific is it?
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:39 PM   #5
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Gypsy Moths are bird food plane and simply. They make the forest look ugly and otherwise I believe they don't harm the tree. The trees have roots and put out new leaves once the caterpillars leave the plant. Also I have never seen a plant with Gypsy Moths where they completely ate all the leaves to the tree, and I've seen numerous times the caterpillars leave the plant once reaching adulthood. The various Oaks, Maples, and Sumac behind where I work all have 4 or 5 tents per tree and I don't see any damage or harm.

Host plants for the Luna Moth includes Sumac, Birch, Alder, Persimmon, Black and Sweet gum, Hickory, and Walnut among several others of our native trees. So no shortage of host plants there. If you have a forest in the eastern part of North America chances are you have this moth.

The real issue with moths in general is Lights. When you see moths at lights at night it's bad because they aren't mating. Instead they're sitting around or wasting all their energy flying at lights. The adult to most moths, such as the Luna Moth here, actually don't feed in the adult stage. All the eating they did was done while they were a caterpillar. So it's very important for them to complete their life cycle. I believe the Luna Moth only lives for 2 weeks (maybe 4) in it's adult stage.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:55 PM   #6
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I think you might be confusing tent caterpillars (genus Malacosoma) with gypsy moth larvae - gypsy moths don't make tents, and commonly defoliate entire trees. If it happens a few years in a row, the tree could easily die, maybe from someting else taking advantage of its weakened state.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:40 PM   #7
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Lovely moth!
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:35 PM   #8
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My favorite moth of all of them. The adult has no digestive tract and no mouth.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:54 AM   #9
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I found this to show the various stages of the luna.

http://butterflies.aa6g.org/Butterflies/Raised/luna.html
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLorax View Post
My favorite moth of all of them. The adult has no digestive tract and no mouth.
Is it your favorite because it has no mouth and can't eat up all your plants?
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