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     TX Organic Research Center

 

 

CURRENT MOON
 
Luna Moth
 

 

Common Name: Luna Moth, Moon Moth

Scientific Name: Order Lepidoptera, family Saturniidae, Actias luna

Size: Adult wing span--5", larva--2 1/2" to 3"

Identification: Large, night-flying, startlingly beautiful moth with translucent green wings and long tail. The color of the wings' edges vary from purple to yellow. The large green larvae are translucent light green, with a light yellow line along the side and red or orange knobs.

Biology and Life Cycle: Large brown eggs are laid in irregular groups. The larvae are large caterpillars that eat lots of foliage; cocoons are made from leaves and loosely cover the pupae. Usually two to three generations a year. Cocoons are found in the leaves on the ground. The sexes are similar but the males have distinctively featured antennae.

Habitat: They like many trees such as hickory, pecan, willow, maple, persimmon, birch, oak, and sweetgum.

Feeding Habits: Larvae eat the foliage of deciduous trees.

Economic Importance: Not highly destructive. Their beauty is certainly worth a little damage.

Natural Control: Predatory wasps and bats.

Organic Control: None needed.

Insight: The luna moth is unrelated to the swallowtail butterfly even though they look similar. In Texas look for luna moths on sweetgum trees. This family includes the largest moths in our area.


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