Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I find at least one newly emerged Luna Moth each year. They’re always a treat, but it makes me wonder just how many of these lovely creatures there are in my woods. If I can inadvertently blunder into a couple each year, might that mean that there are hundreds or even thousands that I haven’t seen? I hope that’s what it means.

The image of a Luna is often used to indicate something mystical in nature. As a child I found the Luna to be most magical and wondrous. It was a creature that I would not confine and any I found were helped along their way.

I recall finding a spent Luna when I was nine or ten. Its body was shriveled and the wings were battered and there was no way it was going to survive. I mixed up a batch of sugar water and tried for hours to get it to drink. It was years later that I learned the Luna had no mouth. The adult form is essentially a machine designed for reproduction. The males exist to fertilize the females and the females exist to lay eggs. It all happens in a brief few days and then it’s over. If I’d known that at an earlier age, I would have left the Luna in peace and not subjected it to the ancient sugar water torture.

The Luna is one of the few species of giant silkworm moth that is still common in this area. The others have declined steadily over the last 20 years and most haven’t been seen for several years. One possible reason is the increase in security lights surrounding Blue Jay Barrens. Many species of these huge moths are highly attracted to the lights and studies have shown that an increase in lights results in a decrease in moths. It could be that Lunas are not as highly attracted to the lights or maybe the females lay many eggs in the vicinity of their hatching spot before moving out where they would contact any lights.

The radar-like antennae are the sign of a male moth. The antennae are highly attuned to the pheromone produced by the female moth and will guide the male toward a fruitful union. I hope this male finds a female that will lay a bounty of eggs, so that I can enjoy finding Lunas again next year.


  1. ...really interesting post, Steve...and beautiful photos too. I didn't know it didn't have a mouth! Matty and I found one on a tree in the forests of Shawnee last summer. He was gorgeous...

  2. Hi Steve...I have seen and found dead Luna moths since I was child, and most times it was in the vicinity of lighting!!
    Interesting info. I did not know, and I won't be bothered to mix any magic sugar water brews either!!
    They are a amazingly beautiful moth, great photo to!!

  3. Thanks, Kelly. I've been hearing that Lunas are super abundant this year in southern Adams and Scioto Counties.

    Hi, grammie g. It's always saddening to see a dead Luna. Especially when they're laying beneath a light.

  4. Enjoyed this wonderful description/story. Beautiful images to go along with it.