The luna moth is one of the
largest moths in North America, with a wingspan
of up to 4½ inches. Its wings are lime green in
color, with prominent eyespots on the long,
tapering hindwings, with a characteristic hint of
purple on the leading edges. The body is white,
the legs pinkish. Males can be distinguished from
females by their larger, bushier antennae.
Luna moths are found throughout
North America, from east of the Great Plains into
northern Mexico and from Manitoba eastward
through central Quebec into Nova Scotia. They
inhabit areas with plenty of the hardwood
deciduous trees upon which the caterpillars feed.
number of generations of luna moths per year
varies depending on prevailing climate, with only
one generation reaching maturity per year in the
north (between early June and early July) to as
many as three generations reaching maturity in
one year in the south (one about every eight to
ten weeks beginning in March). 100-300 eggs are
laid four to seven at a time on the undersides of
leaves; they are incubated by both parents for
eight to thirteen days.
The luna moth caterpillar goes through
five separate growth stages, each of which lasts
about five days. At the end of each stage the
caterpillar deposits a small amount of silk in
leaf litter, usually at the base of a food tree,
and remains there while it molts its old skin and
"grows into" the next stage. Coloration
and markings vary slightly between each stage,
but the caterpillar is always green; the
caterpillar is about three inches long in the
At the end of its final caterpillar
stage, the luna moth spins a thin, papery silk
cocoon, in which it pupates for about five weeks.
The adult luna moth emerges from its cocoon in
the morning and will spend about two hours
allowing its wings to harden so it can fly away
and find a mate. Adult luna moths do not eat
(they don't even have a mouth), and only live
long enough to mate (about a week). As adults,
they are only seen at night.
Luna moth caterpillars feed on
birch, alder, persimmon, sweetgum, hickory,
walnut and sumac trees.
genus & species Acias lunias
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