Luna Moth and Polyphemus Moth

Subject: This guy is near my Luna moth.
Location: Reston virginia.
May 14, 2016 6:51 pm
I have a beautiful Luna moth at my front door and another large brown moth I can’t identify on my outdoor light.
1 are Luna moths endangered by weather in th 30’s?
2 his wings are quivering. What does that mean?
3 what is the brown moth on my lamp?
4 there’s a toad hanging out near the Luna. Will he eat him/her?
Thank you. So happy I found your website.
Signature: Love nature.

Polyphemus Moth
Polyphemus Moth

Dear Love nature,
All of the preserved native open space in Reston is obviously having a positive impact on wildlife.  Adult Giant Silkmoths, including Luna Moths, emerge from the cocoon when conditions, including temperature, are conducive to reproduction.  If temperatures dip to the low 30s, the moths will likely not fly and await a warming trend, but if they are sheltered, they will most likely survive.  Quivering wings are sometimes evident just prior to a moth beginning to fly, and the phenomenon is explained on BugGuide:  “The shaking behavior is a method of regulating body temperature, similar to shivering in humans. Though these are ‘cold-blooded’ animals, their nocturnal nature forces them to be active in lower temperatures, so the shivering heats up the flight muscles enough to expend the massive amounts of energy required to take off.”  Your brown moth is a male Polyphemus Moth, a species with pronounced eyespots on the ventral surface.  Regarding your final question, we believe you are mistaken.  That appears to be a cat and not a toad that is checking out your Luna Moth.  A cat can do considerable damage to a Luna Moth, including mortally wounding it. 

Luna Moth
Luna Moth

Thank you for your quick response.  That was my cat wishing she were on the other side of the door (which will NEVER happen). The toad was out of sight of my camera.  My husband moved him down the porch for the evening.  The Luna was gone this morning so I hope he/she is ok.  These beautiful moths come to my home annually.
Love your website.  Thank you so much.

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