FROST VALLEY YMCA Natural Resources Department
2000 Frost Valley Road Claryville, NY 12725 EMAIL email@example.com
TEL 845-985-2291 FAX 845-985-0056 WEB frostvalley.org
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Wildlife Spotlight Luna Moth (Actias Luna) One of the most beautiful insects native to the Catskills, the Luna Moth is a rare and beautiful find for any wildlife watcher.
DEscriPtioN: Adult Luna Moths have tan, fuzzy bodies and fern-like antennae. Their lime-green wings feature prominent eyespots. Their typical wingspan is 3-4 inches across, making them one of the largest moths in North America.
LIFE CYCLE: Female moths lay their eggs on the tops and bottoms of the leaves of certain tree species. The lime-green caterpillars hatch one – two weeks later, spending most of their time feeding. The caterpillars go through five instar stages before spinning a cocoon made from silk and leaves. After two or three weeks, the adult moth will hatch.
Habitat & raNGE: Lunas can be found in forested areas containing preferred species of trees (birch, walnut, persimmon, sumac, and sweetgum). Lunas are widely distributed across eastern North America and can be found as far west as Texas and North Dakota.
DIET: Luna catepillars feed on the leaves of the trees mentioned previously. In the northeastern US, they are most commonly found on birch trees. Adult Luna Moths do not have mouths, so they only live for about one week once they reach this stage.
aDaPtatioNs: Adult Luna moths have a number of defensive adaptations to discourage predators. Their green wings provide good camouflage against the backdrop of their preferred tree species. The eye-spots decorating their wings are thought to distract or confuse would-be predators. Caterpillars will make a clicking sound when threatened and will also regurgitate fluids that have been shown to discourage some predators.
AT FROST VALLEY: Birches are Luna Moths’ preferred host trees in the Catskills, so they’re a good place to start when looking for Luna caterpillars or adults. Adults usually emerge in late spring to early summer. In 2011, Luna moths were most common during the first week of June.
Hall, Donald W. “Luna Moth.” University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology: Featured Creatures. June 2007. Web. 2 August 2011.
“Attributes of Actias luna.” Butterflies and Moths of North America. Web. 2 August 2011.
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