Currently viewing the category: "Luna Moth – Rare Specimen"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Camouflaged leaf butterfly
Location: Charlotte, NC
May 13, 2014 5:00 pm
I’m very curious as to the species of this outstanding specimen.
Signature: C Tubman

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Dear C Tubman,
This gorgeous creature is a male Luna Moth, and your image is only the second we have received this year.  Typically, we begin receiving Luna Moth images in February from Texas and Florida, and as spring warmth moves north, we begin to get reports from higher latitudes.  By late May and early June, we hear of sightings in Maine and Canada.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Big Bug
Location: West Frankfort, Illinois
May 6, 2014 5:00 pm
Hi ~
This is a bug in my friends house. She lives in Illinois. It does have a mouth because it was eating wasps.
Can you help?
Signature: Thank you! Anne Woods

Male Luna Moth

Male Luna Moth

Dear Anne,
This is a male Giant Silkmoth in the family Saturniidae, and we are relatively certain it is a Luna Moth, and because of the feathery antennae, we believe this to be a male Luna Moth.  We got tremendous amusement from your letter because of your friend’s claim that it was eating wasps.  We are also amused that you made a point of stating that it does have a mouth, which implies that there is some reason to believe it doesn’t have a mouth.  According to all the material we have ever read regarding members of the family Saturniidae, “Adults do not feed” as is stated on BugGuide.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica:  “Adults have reduced, or vestigial, mouthparts, and many never feed.”  We were surprised to read that because based on that statement, some members of the family might feed.  We decided to dig deeper to search for reputable websites that confirm what we have known for many years.  According to the Study of Northern Virginia Ecology website which was developed for use by elementary age students in Northern Virginia to learn more about their local ecology:  “Adult Luna Moths don’t eat; in fact, they don’t even have a mouth.”  According to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences:  “They don’t feed at all as adults and instead depend on food they store as caterpillars to survive.”  According to Live Science:  “The adult Luna moth, for instance, doesn’t even have a mouth.”  According to the Habitat Herald Newsletter of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy:  “Luna Moths have no mouths, so they do not eat in this stage.”  We are also wondering why your friend would be circulating an image from this angle, because though it is still an interesting image, a dorsal view is ideal for displaying the beauty of the Luna Moth, which many people consider the loveliest North American insect.  Please ask your friend to provide any documentation of this Luna Moth eating wasps, because that image is sure to rock the world of biology to its very core.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Green caterpillar with spikes
Location: Limpopo, South Africa
March 30, 2014 11:15 pm
My mother is trying to idenify this caterpillar. It is green with spikes onthe back. She lives om a farm near Musina in Limpopo Province, South Africa
Signature: Curious

What's that Silkworm???

What’s that Silkworm???

Dear Curious,
We are a bit excited that your Silkworm looks very much like the first South African species we researched, the African Moon Moth,
Argema mimosae.  The caterpillar of Argema mimosae resembles your caterpillar, since both have double rows of horns, what we suspect to be an uncommon feature.  This image on FlickR shows the distinctive intersegmental zones.  The imago is one of the loveliest and most elegant Giant Silkmoths in South Africa.

After your email I did a quick search. It looks like it is the African Moon Moth Caterpillar (Argema mimosae)

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s my monster green kite
Location: Eastern PA, USA
July 12, 2013 5:29 pm
Please help me identify this most unusual bug which appeared on the meter of my house in eastern PA
Signature: Chris

Male Luna Moth

Male Luna Moth

Hi Chris,
Your colorful subject line caught our attention.  This is a male Luna Moth, and it is most likely a second generation that eclosed from a caterpillar that was produced by Luna Moths that emerged from their cocoons earlier this past spring.  Luna Moths do not feed as adults, and they only survive a few days, long enough to mate and lay eggs for a future generation. 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Polyphemus & Luna Moths
Location: St. Mary’s County, MD
June 10, 2013 10:34 am
We hit the jackpot this spring. One of my children brought home 2 cocoons that she found on the ground at a nearby playground, so we put them on the front porch in a butterfly habitat and started waiting. Last month, a polyphemus moth emerged, and last week a luna moth followed. We live at the bottom of Maryland on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, and we don’t usually see luna moths this early in the summer. By the way, my 10 y.o. thinks the polyphemus was a male and the luna was a female. Is she correct?
Signature: Laura

Polyphemus Moth

Polyphemus Moth

Hi Laura,
My you were lucky.  What a wonderful experience for your children to have experience these eclosions in a butterfly habitat.  The Polyphemus is definitely a male because of his plumose antennae.  The Luna is most likely a female as the antennae are not quite as feathery.  If you had kept the female in the habitat for a day or so, she might have attracted one or more males.  Have you ever attempted to raise caterpillars of the Giant Silk Moths in your area?  You should see if there is a National Moth Week event registered somewhere in your vicinity this year.  It might be a nice family outing.

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

We will be away on holiday for ten days and we will not be responding to any of your numerous submissions and identification requests until we return.  We expect much backlog at that time and our already overworked staff might not be able to respond to your requests during that period.  Please use our archives and attempt to identify your creatures using our excellent search engine.  We hope we are lucky enough to see a Luna Moth on our trip.

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Update:  June 12, 2013
We have returned from holiday, and though we did not get to see any Luna Moths or any Fireflies, we did see several Red Spotted Purples, arguably one of the loveliest North American Butterflies.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination