Luna Moth – Actias Luna (linnaeus)

common call: luna moth

scientific call: Actias (=Tropaea) luna (Linnaeus) (LUNA Insecta: Lepidoptera: Saturniidae: Saturniinae)

Introduction – Distribution – Description – Life Cycle and Biology – Host Plants – Natural Enemies – Defenses – Selected References

Introduction (Back LUNA to Top)

The luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus), is arguably our maximum beautiful moth. Examples of its reputation include its look on a primary elegance United States postage stamp issued in 1987 (Figure 1); its choice to grace the the front cover of A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (Covell 2005); and the use of an lively luna moth within the 2007 tv advertisements for the sleep useful resource Lunesta.

Figure 1. In1987, america Post Office issued a first elegance stamp with the imageof the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Donald W. Hall, Entomology and LUNA Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Described and named (as Phalena plumata caudata) via Petiver in 1700, the luna moth became the first North American saturniid to be reported within the literature (Tuskes et al. 1996). The authentic Latin name of the luna moth which cited the long tails became misplaced while Linnaeus transformed the name to a binomial with the particular epithet luna in 1758.

The own family call Saturniidae is based totally on the eyespots of some participants of the own family that incorporate concentric earrings harking back to the planet Saturn (Powell 2003). The luna moth receives its name from its moon-like spots.

Distribution (Back to Top)

Usually determined in LUNA forested areas. In southern Canada it occurs from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan. In the USA, it is discovered in each japanese kingdom from Maine south to Florida and west to japanese Texas and japanese North Dakota.

Description (Back to Top)

Adults: The grownup wingspan is 75 to 105 mm (Covell 2005). Adult luna moths are huge green moths with a protracted tail on each hind wing and discal eyespots on both the fore and hind wings (Figures 2 and three). The luna moth is univoltine (one generation) from Michigan northward, bivoltine in the course of the Ohio Valley, and trivoltine southward (Tuskes et al. 1996). In Louisiana and Florida, adults may be discovered during each month of the yr Also, reared specimens often range in colour from those in nature (Ferguson 1972).

Figure 2. Adultmale luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 3. Adultfemale luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Lyle J. Buss, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Adults of the spring brood in multivoltine ( or extra generations) populations are generally a deeper green with reddish-crimson wing margins whilst the ones of later LUNA broods are more yellowish with yellowish margins (Packard 1914, Tuskes et al. 1996). Moths from southern populations have a tendency to be smaller.

Luna antennae are quadripectinate (comb-like on 4 aspects) with those of men being larger than those of females. Males are greater yellowish-green at the same time as females are greater blue-green in color (Packard 1914).

Eggs: The barely oval eggs are white, mottled with the brown adhesive (Figure four). Maximum mentioned dimensions in millimeters are 1.9 x 1.6 x 1.2 (duration x width x peak) (Peterson 1965).

Figure 4. Eggsof the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Larvae: The vibrant green full-grown caterpillars are 55 to 70 mm in duration (Godfrey et al. 1987). There is a yellowish-white sub-spiracular line on belly segments one via seven and posterior yellow strains extending across the dorsum of segments one through seven to just above the level of the spiracles. A mid-segmental transverse band of setae-bearing scoli happens on all thoracic segments and stomach segments one thru 8. The frame is carefully blanketed with quick, white, spatulate setae. The head varies from green to

brown. Just previous to pupation, caterpillars flip a reddish coloration.

Early instars (Figures five-7) differ appreciably in appearance from the later instars. Packard (1914) presents coloration drawings and particular descriptions of each of the five larval instars, however it need to be stated that there’s some version in larvae from the same egg batch as well as huge variation in larvae from extraordinary populations. Larvae of all instars reared with the aid of the author differ markedly in appearance from the ones illustrated by using Packard. Some fifth instars are substantially extra setiferous (furry) than others even among siblings (Figures 9 and 10). Packard (1914) gave the subsequent lengths for the five instars: 1st instar: 6 to 8 mm, second instar: nine to ten mm, third instar: thirteen to fifteen mm, 4th instar: 23 mm, 5th instar: sixty five mm.

Figure five. Firstinstar larva of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by way of Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 6. Secondinstar larva of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by means of Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 7. Thirdinstar larva of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by means of Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure eight. Fourthinstar larva of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by using Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure nine. Fifth(remaining) instar larva of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph through Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 10. Fifth(ultimate) instar larva (extra sertiferous) of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Cocoon and Pupa: The single-layered cocoon is wrapped in leaves (Figure eleven). The darkish brown, posterior stop of the obtect (wings and appendages are appressed to the body – most abdominal segments are immovable) pupa (Figure 12) is anchored to a pad of silk at the rear of the cocoon by way of a cremaster (hooked spines) (Figure thirteen) which allows the person to emerge from

the pupal exoskeleton.

Figure eleven. Cocoonof the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 12. Pupaof the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Lateral view. Photograph via Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 13. Pupaof the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photographby Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Female pupae (Figure 14) can be outstanding from men (Figure 15) through the presence oflongitudinal notches at the ventral surface of the fourth and 5th definitely exposed belly segments. These notches are missing in adult males.

Figure 14. Femalepupa of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Note the 2 longitudinalnotches on the ventral surface of the fourth and fifth completely exposedabdominal segments. Photograph by way of Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 15. Malepupa of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by using Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Life Cycle and Biology (Back to Top)

The adult moth escapes the pupal case through splitting it at the anterior cease and pushing the top up (Figure 16). It then cuts its way from the cocoon (Figure 17) with the aid of the use of serrated, chitinous spurs on its thorax close to the bases of the front wings (Hilton 1965, Priddle 1967).

Figure 16. Cutaway of cocoon with cut up pupal exuvium of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus).Photograph by Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 17. Emergence(go out) hole in cocoon of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph by using Donald W. Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Adult eclosion (emergence from pupa) normally occurs within the morning with men typically beginning emergence numerous days before females. Morning emergence allows time for expansion and drying of the wings previous to the nighttime flight period. Also, during the primary day after emergence, the moth voids the reddish-coloured, liquid meconium which is composed of the breakdown waste products of the old larval tissues.

The adults are strongly attracted to mild – in particular UV wavelengths. There has been some difficulty that mild pollutants from man-made assets (particularly mercury vapor road lighting) might also deter lunas and other silk moths from mating and have a terrible effect on their populations in urban areas (Worth and Muller 1979).

Males are robust fliers and may disperse over exceptionally long distances. Females launch a sex-attractant pheromone and can entice adult males from a distance. Mating typically takes place during the primary couple of hours after midnight. Adults have vestigial mouthparts and do no longer feed. Therefore, they may be short-lived. Females start laying eggs the following nighttime after mating and keep for several nights (Tuskes et al. 1996). At least in captivity and possibly also in nature, the eggs may be laid either singly or in small clusters.

Caterpillars are solitary (Tuskes et al. 1996) and expand thru 5 instars. Caterpillars uncovered to short photoperiods produce diapausing pupae even as the ones uncovered to long photoperiods produce non-diapausing pupae (Wright 1967).

When caterpillars arefull-grown, they may begin to wander. The cocoon is spun the various leaves ofthe deciduous host flora but isn’t anchored to a sprig as is the case withmany polyphemus moth cocoons. Therefore, they fall to the ground in autumn(Holland 1968) as the leaves fall and aren’t generally visible. Development fromhatching to pupation takes a month or longer relying on temperature.

Luna moth caterpillarsare by no means sufficiently commonplace to motive huge harm to their host timber.

Host Plants (Back to Top)

Broadleaf host flora belonging to a huge range of genera were stated as hosts for luna moths (Godfrey et al. 1987, Tietz 1972). However, some of the pronounced host flora might not be appropriate for all populations of lunas. Lindroth et al. (1989) studied first instar survival, length of larval stage, and pupal weights of caterpillars consumed eleven unique plant species and determined that survival was terrible on some plant species that have been said within the literature as hosts. It appears that specific geographical populations of luna moths are adapted to different host vegetation (Lindroth et al. 1989, Tuskes et al. 1996). Lindroth et al. (1989) cautioned that biochemical cleansing of host protecting chemical substances by means of caterpillar

enzymes can be a issue on this host plant specialization.

Northernmost populations most often utilize white birch, Betula papyrifera Marsh, as a bunch. More southerly populations use plenty of host flora mainly participants of the walnut own family Juglandaceae (walnuts [Juglans] and hickories, [Carya] [Figure 18]); sumacs (Rhus) (Figure 19); sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua L. (Figure 20); and persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L. (Figure 21) (Tuskes et al. 1996). Villard (1975) lists hickory because the preferred host, but recommends that rearing be performed in sleeves or cages on dwelling flora due to the fact maximum hickories wilt rapidly when reduce. This impediment may be conquer with the aid of diligently presenting clean food. Sweetgum works nicely for captive rearing.

Figure 18. Pignuthickory, Carya glabra (Mill.)Sweet, a bunch of the luna moth, Actiasluna (Linnaeus). Photograph via Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 19. Wingedsumac, Rhus copallinum L., a number of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph through Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 20. Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua L., a bunch of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph with the aid of Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Figure 21. Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana L., a bunch of the luna moth, Actias luna (Linnaeus). Photograph through Donald W. Hall,Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida.

Natural Enemies (Back to Top)

Luna caterpillars are hosts for some of insect parasitoids inside the families Tachinidae, Ichneumonidae, and Pteromalidae (Tuskes et al. 1996, Kellog et al. 2003). All luna moth stages also are concern to

predation by way of lots of invertebrates and/or vertebrate predators. The adults aren’t even secure at night time. Kellog et al. (2003) pronounced that the floor beneath an owl roost became affected by saturniid wings inclusive of those of luna moths.

Defenses (Back to Top)

Luna caterpillars gain safety from predators by way of their cryptic green colour. When threatened they often rear the front part of the frame in a “sphinx” pose – possibly to make them less caterpillar-want to a predator. If attacked, luna caterpillars as well as the ones of many different bombycoid moths make a clicking noise with the mandibles – every now and then as a prelude to or accompanied by using protecting regurgitation of distasteful fluids. Brown et al. (2007) discovered that ants and mice had been deterred through the regurgitant of the polyphemus moth, Antheraea polyphemus (Cramer), and suggested that the click is a warning of the impending regurgitation.

When the adults are inflight, the twisted lengthy tails are believed to intervene with echo-region byhunting bats (Barber et al. 2015, Lee & Moss 2016).

Selected References (Back to Top)

Barber JR, Leavell BC,Keener AL, Breinholt JW, Chadwell BA, McClure JW, Hill GM, Kawahara AY. 2015.Moth tails divert bat attack: evolution of acoustic deflection. Proceedings ofthe National Academy of Sciences 112: 2812-2816.

Brown SG, Boettner GH, Yack JE. 2007. Clicking caterpillars: acoustic aposematism in Antheraea polyphemus and other Bombycoidea. The Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 993-1005.

Covell CV. 2005. A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America. Special Publication Number 12. Virginia Museum of Natural History. Martinsville, Virginia. 496 pp.

Ferguson DC. 1972. In Dominick RB, Edwards CR, Ferguson DC, Franclemont JG, Hodges RW, Munroe EG. The Moths of America North of Mexico, fasc. 20.2B, Bombycoidea (in part). EW Classey, LTD. Middlesex, England.

Godfrey GL, Jeffords M, Appleby JE. 1987. Saturniidae (Bombycoidea). In Stehr FW. Immature Insects. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. Dubuque, Iowa. pp. 513-521.

Hilton HO. 1965. Pupal escape mechanism of certain saturniid moths. Florida LUNA Entomologist 48: 239-24.

Holland WJ. 1968.The Moth Book: A Guide to the Moths of North America. Dover Publications, Inc. New York. (First posted in 1903 via Doubleday, Page and Company. New York) 479 pp.

Kellog SK, Fink LS, Brower LP. 2003. Parasitism of local luna moths, Actias luna (L.) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) via the introduced Compsilura concinnata (Meigen) (Diptera: Tachinidae) in significant Virginia, and their hyperparasitism through trigonalid wasps (Hymenoptera: Trigonalidae). Environmental Entomology 32: 1019-1027.

Lee W-J, Moss CF. 2016.Can the elongated hindwing tails of fluttering moths function fake sonartargets to divert bat attacks? Journal of the Acoustical Society of America139: 2579-2588.

Lindroth RL. 1989. Chemical ecology of the luna moth: Effects of host plant on cleansing enzyme hobby. Journal of Chemical Ecology 15: 2019-2029.

Packard AS. 1914. Monograph of the Bombycine Moths of North America. Part three. Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 12: 1-516.

Peterson A. 1965. Some eggs of moths a few of the Sphingidae, Saturniidae, and Citheroniidae (Lepidoptera). Florida Entomologist forty eight: 213-219.

Powell JA. 2003. Lepidoptera (Moths, Butterflies). In VH Resh, Cardé RT, editors. Encyclopedia of Insects. Elsevier Science (USA) San Diego, California. pp. 631-663.

Priddle TR. 1967. Structures hired with the aid of Actias luna (Saturniidae) in effecting emergence from the cocoon. Journal of the Lepidopterists Society 21: 249-252.

Tietz HM. 1972. An Index to the Described Life Histories, Early Stages and Hosts of the Macrolepidoptera of the Continental United States and Canada. Part 1. The Allyn Museum of Entomology. Sarasota, Florida. (Distributed by means of Entomological Reprint Specialists. Los Angeles, California). 536 pp.

Tuskes PM, Tuttle JP, Collins MM. 1996. The Wild Silk Moths of North America: The Natural History of the Saturniidae of the US and Canada. Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York. 250 pp.

Villard P. 1975. Moths and How to Rear Them. Dover Publications, Inc. New York, New York. 242 pp.

Worth BC, Muller J. 1979. Captures of large moths by an UV light lure. Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society 33: 261-264.

Wright DA. 1967. The outcomes of photoperiod on the initiation of pupal diapause in the wild silkworm, Actias luna. Journal of the Lepidopterists Society 21: 255-258.

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