I've lived in North Carolina for over ten years, but until today I had never seen or heard of a luna moth (Actias luna). I was pleasantly surprised to find a large gorgeous green moth waiting for me on the bricks of my apartment building. It had beautiful light green wings with purple trim, golden fern-like antennae, a fuzzy white body, four lovely eye spots, and long tails.Here are photographs of the moth:
After identifying the moth and reading more about it, I realized the moth I found was unusual. Its wing span of almost 5 inches made it very large; I found it in September, which is late for this type of moth; and, as a late generation moth, it should have had yellower wing margins instead of purple.
Here is what I learned:
The luna moth has a wingspan up to 4.5 inches. Female moths have slender antennae, while in males, the antannae fan out. At night, luna moths become active as they mate; females lay batches of 200 eggs on the undersides of leaves. Adult luna moths do not feed, as they rely on the energy they gathered as caterpillars. They die after seven days.
The range of the luna moth extends from the southeastern US to southeastern Canada; they prefer forested areas. In the southern US, they have up to three generations each year between March and September. The wing color changes from generation to generation, with later flights getting yellower.