Interesting Facts about the Luna Moth (Actias luna)
The luna moth, a member of the Saturniidae family, is one of the largest moths in North America, with a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches. The pale green wings have a purple margin alone the front edges, with four eyespots on the wings that serve to confuse potential predators. If attacked, the moth will flutter its wings wildly. Male and female adults look similar, but the males have more heavily feathered antennae. Prior to its adult stage, the luna moth is a green caterpillar with a yellow stripe on each side, hair, and spiny tubercles (wart-like projections).
This species can only be found in North America. Luna moths prefer deciduous woods; the caterpillars feed on the leaves of deciduous species such as hickory, sumacs, birch, alder, and walnut. Adult luna moths neither eat, nor have mouths. Their adult lifespan is only approximately one week, and their sole purpose during this time is to mate. Saturniids exhibit a pheromone mating system. The males are able to find the females by following their scent trail. Since luna moths are nocturnal, mating generally occurs at night. If the pair remains undisturbed, they may remain coupled until the following night. Female luna moths produce 100 – 300 eggs, and lay them 4-7 at a time on the undersides of leaves over several nights.