Luna Moth accused of eating Wasps

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.

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