Luna moths, or giant silkworm moths, are difficult to find due to their camouflage, destruction of their habitat and multiple predators and parasites that feed on them. The moth's wingspan is almost 4 1/2 inches across and it has a white body, pink legs and very large, pea-green wings. The wings feature eyespots and long, crinkled tails on the hind set. Luna moths hide in specific trees and shrubs, including sweet gum, black walnut and willow.
Things You'll Need
- Field guide
Locate a temperate deciduous forest. Luna moths can be found in these areas in most of the United States, Canada and in similar climates across the globe. Locating a luna moth is most easily accomplished in the early spring through early summer in the North American region.
Locate luna moth eggs. The female luna moth lays its small, light-colored eggs in groups of about 200 on the bottom of leaves, most commonly the leaves of the black walnut tree. After the eggs have been located, observe that area for populations of luna moths as they develop.
Be on the lookout for luna moth caterpillars and cocoons. After the bright, green caterpillars hatch from their eggs, they molt their skins four to five times over a period of three to four weeks. They grow to be about 2 1/2 inches long and then spin a cocoon, which will house them for two to three weeks before they emerge. Watching a cocoon as it develops can be an easy way to spot the elusive moth.
Search for the full-grown luna moths at night. After the moths hatch, they fly most often from dusk until dawn. During this time, searching for a mate is their sole activity; luna moths do not take in any food as adults and only live for about one week. One tactic used to spot a luna moth is using a flashlight to scan a tree line, coupled with high-powered binoculars. They can sometimes be seen during the daylight hours using binoculars, as well, because they rest among the leaves during the day.
Tips & Warnings
- Keeping a luna moth caterpillar in a habitat with a large branch and leaves from the trees they frequent provides a definite way to get a glimpse of this elusive insect.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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