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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!

5 comments:

  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!

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

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  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!

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

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  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.

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