A Luna moth lives for about a week to 10 days. These moths live such short life since they don’t eat and have many predators.
Luna Moth Species Summary
|Scientific Name||Actias luna|
|Habitat||In and near deciduous woodlands|
|Range||Florida and Maine, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan|
|Host Plants||Walnut, hickory, persimmon, and sweet gum|
|Moth Description||Distinctly green with tails on forewings|
|Caterpillar Description||Lime green color, yellow lines, and red and orange spots|
Luna Moth Lifecycle
A Luna moth (also called Actias luna or American moon moth) reproduces 1 to 3 times a year, depending on the climate. First, spring broods may differ in color and be darker than the second and third generations. Luna moths have 4 developmental stages:
- Winged adult moths
What is the average lifespan for a luna moth?
The average lifespan for an adult Luna moth is seven to 10 days. After mating, female Luna moths lay 200 to 400 eggs over several days and attach them to the undersides of the leaves of host plants. The eggs incubate for seven to 13 days and then hatch, entering the larval stage.
Luna moth larvae go through 5 instars (a phase between 2 molting periods). Each one lasts for 4 to 10 days. A Luna moth spends about 2 to 3 weeks as a larva. Then, it builds a cocoon and pupates.
A Luna moth cocoon may take from 2 weeks to 9 months to emerge. Typically, it spends about 2 to 4 weeks as a pupa unless a winter period causes a diapause (development delay).
Finally, the moth transitions into an adult. Their abdomens are swollen, and their wings are wet and soft for the first few hours, so they’re unable to fly instantly.
Physical Appearance of a Luna Moth
Luna moth caterpillars are about 2.75 inches (7 cm) long. They’re known for their lime green color, yellow lines, and red and orange spots.
Adult moths have thick bodies and bright green wings with dark edges. They have eyespots on the forewings and hindwings. The hindwings end in long, curved tails.
Both females and males have antennae, but they’re usually wider and longer in males. The moths’ wingspan ranges from 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) to 7 inches (17.8 cm).
How Rare Is It to See a Luna Moth?
Luna moths are nocturnal, have a short lifespan, and live in forested areas, so you’re unlikely to see one. However, they aren’t that rare. Their usual range includes Florida and Maine in the US and Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and central regions of Quebec in Canada.
Luna Moth Habitat
Luna moths are usual visitors of deciduous woodlands, where their host plants are located.
Usual Host plants and Food Sources
Luna moth caterpillars eat and store energy for the adult stage, as their mouthparts reduce and become vestigial (nonfunctional) when they transform into moths. Adult moths also don’t have digestive systems. Luna caterpillars live on and feed off the leaves of the following host trees:
- White birches
Does the luna moth have any predators?
Both vertebrates and invertebrates prey on Luna moths. Common predators include:
- Various birds
- Ground beetles
- Insect parasitoids
Luna caterpillars can defend themselves by rearing the front part of their bodies or making a clicking noise with their mandibles. They can also deter predators by regurgitating the contents of their intestines. Moreover, they’re green, so they camouflage into their surroundings and are less visible.
Although adult moths don’t defend themselves, their eyespots and hindwing tails confuse predators. The elongated tails can be especially disorienting to bats relying on echolocation for hunting.
Is luna moth endangered?
Some Luna moth habitats have been destroyed. Combined with the use of bright lights during nighttime, moth’s mating cycles have been disrupted, which led to population decline.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
Alexandra is passionate about exploring the delicate parts of flora and fauna and educating others about the importance of conservation. She shares her love for butterflies here at Butterfly Hobbyist.