During the early evening hours of August 2008, I spied this male luna moth, Actias Luna, on a small high branch of my Redbud tree that was pressed up under the eaves of my garage . I’d never seen one before and at the time I didn’t even know what it was. My son immediately recognized it as the moth in the TV commercials for a prescription sleep aid.
I looked on the internet for “green moth” and very quickly identified it as a luna moth. I can see by the name—luna means moon—why the marketers at the drug company might choose this image. But considering the moth only flies at night, it’s not a very good mascot for someone who has trouble sleeping.
The luna moth is part of the Saturniidae family of moths which are some of the largest moths. The wingspan of this moth can be as much as 4 1/2 inches. The Saturniidae moths are also known as Giant Silkworm Moths because their cocoons are spun of silk, although not the kind of silk you can spin into thread and then weave into fabric.
After mating, the female luna will lay a hundred or more eggs on a leaf. One tree that hosts these moths is the Black Walnut, and since I have several behind my fence so I’m going to check them for luna eggs next summer.
After a few minutes the moth left the protection of the eaves but instead of flying away as I expected, it came closer and landed on the screen door.
What a treat to be able to study it up close for a few minutes.
As look at this moth I’m thinking of a challenge for Project Runway. Take the designers on a trip to a natural history museum and then challenge them to create a look inspired by an insect.
I love the color and the contrasting mauve along the shoulder ridge of the wings. This challenge would inspire me to create a red carpet look, a pale green dress with the tendrils of a trail. It would have two layers and I would use mauve around the one-shouldered neckline and perhaps diagonally down the dress. I would use the vivid colors and textures of the eye spot to create a small handbag.
But, enough of that.
By the way, the male luna moth has a fuller set of feathery antennae than the female moth. Based on the size of the antennae on this moth I can tell it’s a male.