Monday, March 23, 2015

Beautiful Sighting

Luna Moth
Actias luna (Linaeus, 1758)
Sometimes called the American Moon Moth
This beautiful Luna moth rested calmly on our homestead during a long day of intermittent rain. Most we have found have wing spans around 4", yet this one was rather on the small side. I love when the Lunas drift in from the woods during the night attracted by the light over our shop door. Some mornings the side of our barn area is covered with them.
Identification: Hindwings have long curving tails. Wings are pale green, each with a transparent eyespot. Outer margins are pink in the southern spring brood, yellow in the southern summer brood and in northern populations.
Wing Span: 2 15/16 - 4 1/8 inches (7.5 - 10.5 cm).
Life History: Adults are very strong fliers and are attracted to lights. Mating takes place after midnight, and egg-laying begins that evening. Females lay eggs in small groups or singly on both surfaces of host plant leaves. The eggs hatch in about one week and the caterpillars are sedentary and solitary feeders. Leaves and silk are used to spin papery brown cocoons in litter under the host plant.
Flight: One brood from May-July in the north, two to three broods from March-September in the south.
Caterpillar Hosts: A variety of trees including white birch (Betula papyrifera), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), and sumacs (Rhus).
Adult Food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Deciduous hardwood forests.
Range: Common. Nova Scotia west to Saskatchewan and eastern North Dakota; south to central Florida, the Gulf Coast, and eastern Texas.

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