June 16, 2011 —
I stopped in the Windy Dog Restaurant in Shohola one morning in late May when Mo, the cook there, showed me a huge moth that he spotted resting on one of the window screens. This moth had large eyespots on each wing, and each of the lime-green wings was lined with a maroon-red border. On each hind wing was a long tail. Mo had spotted a luna moth.
Luna moths, Actias luna (Linnaeus), are part of the Saturniidae, or silkworm family, though they don’t make enough silk to be of interest to the textile industry. They are one of the largest moths in the area, with a wingspan of up to six inches. Named for the Roman moon goddess, they are only active during the night and rest during the day. They emerge as adults during late spring and live a brief 10 days or so while they reproduce.
Luna moths are hard to find during the day due to their nocturnal activity, but you may spot them resting on windows or walls near light sources during the day where they perched before daybreak. They are especially attracted by UV light, so “bug zappers” are good places to look during the day. If you spot one, behold and enjoy: this is the time for the “moon moth.”