Monday, August 16, 2010

Luna Moth Caterpillar

After spending the afternoon at a local park, my children and I were heading back to our car when I spotted something big and green stuck to a tree trunk. I assumed it was some kind of caterpillar, but I had never seen one this size before.

Looks to me like a Luna Moth caterpillar, and given its size probably close to its final stage as a caterpillar before it pupates. 

My 4 year old son was fascinated with this and as he watched it closely, I was amazed to see how big it was. It was nearly the length of his whole hand!

The Luna Moth or "Giant Silkworm Moth" have a wingspan of 3-5 inches. They have a white body and huge pale green wings. The hindwings have tails and eye spots:

William Welch ©a natural selection

According to the Northern Virginia Ecology the adult Luna Moths only fly at night and they actually don't eat - they don't even have a mouth! They only live for about a week, and their only purpose is to mate.

Quite a life cycle for such a beautiful insect!


  1. That's a cute and fat caterpillar. Thanks for some interesting facts about the Luna Moth. What a fascinating creature it is, not wanting to eat anything but live to mate and reproduce for the next generation before it moves on!

  2. It really is fascinating, isn't it? Everything in nature has a purpose and this moth is no exception!

  3. What great photos! I did a little research and found that in the southern part of their range preferred foods are sweetgum and persimmon. Have planted the latter, now want to plant a sweetgum to attract some Lunas! Thanks for this great post -- I didn't know what they looked like as caterpillars... Great to find your blog!

  4. Wow, that is a big catapillar! What a pretty moth it turns into. I've never seen one of those before.

  5. Hi, I know I joined this party late, but I'm pretty sure that's a Polyphemus moth caterpillar--just nailed down the ID of some of my own photos of it. Lunas are similar, but have more spines, ridges, bumps, etc. Lovely blog, by the way.

  6. I've never seen one of these moths before until today! (In Syosset, NY)


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