Monday, May 18, 2015

Lovely luna

Luna moth

This morning I found a lovely luna moth as I was out walking in the forest wet from a day of rain.  I think it was not long out of its cocoon, as the tail looks not quite fully unfurled yet.  Lunas emerge from their cocoons in the mornings. I found this one around 6:15 this morning, so I believe it’s just beginning its short seven days of life.

Lunas are common, but because of their short life span, they are not commonly seen.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to study one of these palm-sized moths. I might see one or two a year, and often they are flitting by or otherwise not being photographically cooperative.
This morning’s moth was a wonderful exception.  The little “moon” spots on its wings are the basis for the moth’s name.  But that’s just one of the truly beautiful things about the moth. Notice how the brown top line resembles a twig in both shape and color.  And notice, too, how the wings themselves mimic the shape and the color of the nearby leaves.  How perfect is that?

In this area, the moths produce two generations in a summer.  The first is now, the second will be about 11 weeks later, in mid-August. More northerly lunas will only product one generation a year. Those to the south will produce three.

 I am still trying to decide if this one is a male or a female. The only difference is in the length and width of their antennas.  The male’s antenna are larger and wider, but to my eye the difference is a small one, so I won’t hazard a guess about this one.  I’m just lucky to have found one so cooperative, so I could admire its beauty and share it with you.

9 comments:

Countryside Tales said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing the pic.

Carolyn H said...

Thanks! Sometimes luck is with me!

Scott said...

Good post, Carolyn. I'd never thought about why Luna Moths have that name; aren't I glad I stopped by today?! I hardly ever see them here, though, as you said, they're probably pretty common.

We had a 10-minute shower that wet the top of the soil on Saturday evening, but other then that, we have had no rain for the last 28 days. It's desperately dry here.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: I'm surprised to hear you haven't gotten much rain over the past few days. This area was dry up until Sunday, and I've had over 1.5" since then in various thunderstorms that have rolled through. Sunday rained more than half the day here. We aren't that far apart, so it's odd you haven't gotten at least some of the same storms.

Sharkbytes said...

I don't think I've seen one since I was a kid. They are exceptionally beautiful.

Pablo said...

I've found their wings rarely in the forest, but I've never seen a live one. (Yet)

Grizz………… said...

Great post, pix and info. I think you've told me more about luna moths than I'd heretofore managed to learn in my nearly ten (dog) years! I spot a luna from time to time—usually just flitting around in the porchlight—and have always admired them, and the cecropias, for their size and striking colors. But I've never done more than a smidgen of research, because I do so seldom see one—though I now understand it's not likely their rarity but my poor luck. Anyway, really enjoyed the post.

P.S. No rain shortage here along the riverbank. Between the ample moisture and cool temps (mid-40s this a.m.) Southwestern Ohio is a turning into a verdant jungle!

Carolyn H said...

Pablo, I've never seen just their wings. I guess that's from after their 7 days of life. It's a shame they aren't longer lived--I'd love to see them more often. I do know I've never found one as cooperative as this one was.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: Thanks! I like the cecropias, too. Like Ohio, it was chilly and rainy here in PA this morning. And will be chillier tonight. I hope I won't have to light the fireplace again, but I am going to toss another quilt on the bed!