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Old 06-10-2010, 12:36 AM   #1
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Default Actias luna, Luna Moth

Luna moth photos taken at dawn a few days ago. This moth was h-u-g-e!

Luna Moth (Actias luna) from Wikipedia

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It has a wingspan of up to four and a half inches, which ranks it as one of the largest moths in North America.
This Luna Moth was under the eaves of our garage, so the photos were difficult to take. Not good lighting either.
However the florescent green color of this moth is striking to see close up.

Actias luna, Luna Moth-luna-moth-2.jpg Actias luna, Luna Moth-luna-moth-4.jpg Actias luna, Luna Moth-luna-moth-11.jpg Actias luna, Luna Moth-luna-moth.jpg

I've never seen one of these moths in our area before.
I'm wondering what plants the moth feeds from or the cats feed from.
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Old 06-10-2010, 08:25 AM   #2
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My FAVORITE! I'd love a room painted with that soothing tone!
Did you notice the leading edge of its wings look like a twig with buds branching from it? Quite a cool looking insect.
Their decline is most likely due to their being attracted to the bug zappers...
Too bad people keep them lit at night when the Luna are active.
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Old 06-10-2010, 08:44 AM   #3
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Nice pictures. Luna moths are beautiful but live such a short time as adults.
Once while camping in the mountains near Cherokee national forest the Mr and I saw what must have been over a hundred Luna moths falling from the trees around us. When we investigated we found these killer wasps clinging to the bodies of the moths. In just a few minutes ants were all over them. Nature can be brutal.
Have never seen one in Illinois but they should be here.

I have read that the adult luna moth does not eat just reproduces in a very short time and that host plants vary according to region.

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Broadleaf host plants belonging to a large number of genera have been reported as hosts for luna moths (Godfrey et al. 1987, Tietz 1972). However, some of the reported host plants may not be suitable for all populations of lunas. Lindroth et al. (1989) studied first instar survival, duration of larval stage, and pupal weights of caterpillars fed on eleven different plant species and found that survival was poor on some plant species that were reported in the literature as hosts. It appears that different geographical populations of luna moths are adapted to different host plants (Lindroth et al. 1989, Tuskes et al. 1996). Lindroth et al. (1989) suggested that biochemical detoxification of host defensive chemicals by caterpillar enzymes may be a factor in this host plant specialization.
Northernmost populations most often utilize white birch, Betula papyrifera Marsh, as a host. More southerly populations use a variety of host plants particularly members of the walnut family Juglandaceae (walnuts [Juglans] and hickories, [Carya]); sumacs (Rhus); sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua L.; and persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L. (Tuskes et al. 1996). Villard (1975) lists hickory as the preferred host, but recommends that rearing be done in sleeves or cages on living plants since most hickories wilt rapidly when cut. This obstacle can be overcome by diligently supplying fresh food. Sweetgum works well for captive rearing
luna moth - Actias luna (Linnaeus)
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Old 06-11-2010, 01:06 PM   #4
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Glora,
Thanks for posting the information about the host plants for the luna moth cats. We do have quite a few white birch trees, so that must be what attracted the Luna Moth Caterpillars our woodlands.
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