I had a strange and wonderful visitor in the dark last night, a male luna moth. What a wondrous animal! It is about 4″ long and 3″ wide with a white body and tiny red legs. I know it is a male luna moth because like most moths, the antennae are broad and not skinny as would be a female’s.
Adult luna moths have no mouths so they don’t eat and they only live as an adult moth for about a week. At night the female casts a delicate soft line of scent into the night to attract a passing male. After mating the female lays her eggs on the underside of a walnut or cherry or maple leaf and then she dies. The male hunts for females and then he dies as well. Two pale green zephyrs adrift on the night breeze.
Over most of it’s range there are two generations of luna moths each summer and the caterpillar will molt it’s skin several times as it grows and gorges on leaves. The last generation of the year over winters as a cocoon ready to emerge on the first warm days of the Spring.
Mid-June is when I see luna moths, hanging underneath my porch light at dawn, resting from a long night out. How delicate and exquisite is wonder!