Bug of the Month March 2011: Luna Moth Swarm in Texas!!!

Luna Moth – Huffman, TX

Luna Moth

Luna Moth – Huffman, TX
Location: Huffman, TX
February 28, 2011 9:49 am
Good morning! When I arrived at our warehouse this morning, there were a few dozen of these moths on the north exterior wall. Our warehouse is located in Huffman, TX, which is on the Northeast side of the greater Houston metro area. After searching, they appear to be Luna Moths, but I have never seen them before. We have had relatively dry weather as of late, and these pictures were taken around 8:00 a.m. on Monday, February 28th. They also appear to be quite lethargic. Are they spawning now?
Signature: Thad Fehlis

Luna Moth

Dear Thad,
We are very excited about your email for several different reasons.  First, we want to congratulate you on what must be a spectacular sight.  We imagine much of our readership as well as our editorial staff are quite envious that you witnessed dozens of Luna Moths at one time.   Since it is time for us to select a Bug of the Month for March, we cannot think of a more fitting candidate than the Luna Moth, even though it has received the honor of being Bug of the Month once before, nearly four years ago in April 2007.  Luna Moth sightings typically begin in February in the southernmost reaches of their range in Florida, and as spring progresses, sightings appear in the more northern climes, generally peaking in May for Maine and Canada.  Luna Moth adults do not feed and they have a very short lifespan.  Adults mate and lay eggs and quickly die, so if you have swarming Luna Moths, they must be spawning.  Thanks for getting our day off to a wonderful start.

Luna Moth

Thank you for the quick response.  As I’m sending you this email, two more of them just landed on my window.  Having grown up in Austin, TX, I had the good fortune of seeing the annual Monarch butterfly migration.  It’s quite a sight to see thousands of Monarchs together.  Here in Houston, the Natural Science Museum has a butterfly exhibit, which allows you to see the cocoon hatchery as well as an enormous walk through controlled environment where several species of butterfly and moth fly all around you.
Do you have a good source where I can find out what other “rare” species of moth are in this area?  We have also seen some interesting moths in the College Station are which, at first glance, we thought were hummingbirds.  Do you happen to know what these might be?  They moved very quickly, and were about the same size as the Luna.

Hi again Thad,
Though our category states that the Luna Moth is a rare species, that is not entirely true.  Some local populations, like yours, are apparently quite plentiful, though in other parts of their range, Luna Moths are quite rare.  The other moths you describe are probably Sphinx Moths in the family Sphingidae.  You can try to identify the species you saw on the Sphingidae of Texas webpage.

8 thoughts on “Bug of the Month March 2011: Luna Moth Swarm in Texas!!!”

    • Hi PHil,
      Thank you for asking. We frequently allow permission for nonprofit use of images. Using the images for an educational school project is fine with us.

  1. I did not know this was typical luna moth behavior until now. I just looked out of my window, around 6:00 p.m., and saw dozens of them swarming over the river below my house. This would appear to be late for this latitude. It has been an enchanting sight, with their leaflike wings reflecting the late afternoon sun.


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