They usually overwinter twice as larvae. When you are out at night (especially around well-lit areas), keep your eyes open and look out for this majestic wonder of nature. The luna moth's natural enemies include owls, bats, bald-faced hornets, Fiery Searcher ground beetles, and parasitic wasps. Bats are particularly skilled at hunting Luna moths. Luna moths that live and breed in Canada and the northern bordering states produce one generation (brood) per year (May-July). Male Luna moth antennae fan out much like a feather. Also known as the American Moon Moth, Luna moths are common throughout South Carolina. The hornet moth or hornet clearwing (Sesia apiformis) is a large moth native to Europe and the Middle East and has been introduced to North America. The luna is one of the largest of moths in North America, with a wingspan of 4.5 inches. It is also smaller in size. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. Luna moths thrive in eastern North America, as far west as Texas, and a large portion of southeastern Canada. Once it becomes an adult, the luna moth no longer feeds at all (in fact, it has no mouth for feeding). The cocoon later falls to the ground among the leaf litter, where it is conveniently camouflaged and protected from the harsh conditions of winter. The newly emerged moth will climb to structure where it can hang to expand and dry its wings for flight.LayLa Burgess, ©2019 HGIC, Clemson Extensio. In the United States, it can be seen in every eastern state from Maine to Florida and as far west as Texas. This large, beautiful moth is part of the Saturniidae family. The Luna moth’s head is well hidden, usually causes a predator to attack one of the sweeping tails, resulting in the moth’s survival. The luna moth is found in forested areas in the Northern hemisphere. Eyespots are located on all four wings to confuse predators and assist in misguiding an attack to a less vulnerable location of the body. Stacy Ronette Sparks, Lab Specialist 1Eric P. Benson, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Extension Entomologist, Clemson UniversityJoseph D. Culin, Emeritus Faculty, Clemson University, LayLa Burgess, HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University. Because there are so few, and they are nocturnal insects, it is very rare for people to see this unique moth. Its name, \"Luna,\" meaning moon, is attributed both to its nocturnal nature as well as the crescent in the eyespot of its wings that resembles a crescent moon. Luna moth life cycle: eggs on a host plant, caterpillar (larva), pupa inside the cocoon, and the adult moth.LayLa Burgess, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson Extension. A caterpillar is the larval stage of a moth or butterfly. Usually emerging in the morning, the moth hangs and rests through the day to allow its wings to inflate with blood before it flies off at night to seek a mate. They overwinter at least twice as larvae for the first and sometimes second winter and as fully grown larvae in cocoons for the second or third winter. LayLa Burgess, ©2020 HGIC, Clemson Extension Owls, bats, bald-face hornets, parasitic wasps, and fiery searcher ground beetles are a few of the predators that eat Luna moths. 21 Oct 2002. You might just get lucky and catch a glimpse. This includes alder, birch, beech, red maple, white oak, wild cherry, hazelnut, hickories, pecan, walnut, persimmon, sweetgum, willows, and smooth sumac. The caterpillar deters a predator by rearing up the front portion of its body and making a clicking noise with its mandibles. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. The name is derived from Luna, the Roman moon goddess. Luna moths are considered saturniid moths, referring to the use of wing patterns as a defense mechanism against predators. The wing edges (margins) also differ in color between seasonal forms. It is the second part of their four-stage life cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult). Copyright © 2020 Clemson UniversityClemson Cooperative Extension | 103 Barre Hall Clemson, SC 29634864-986-4310 | Contact, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, Centipedegrass Yearly Maintenance Program, Light pollution (potentially disrupts mating behavior), Accumulation of pesticides in the environment. Later generations throughout the year often have a yellow margin. Because there are so few, and they are a nocturnal insect, it is very rare for people to see this unique moth. In fact, the use of pesticides, loss of habitat, and pollution are some of the reasons it is endangered. At this time, it begins spinning a silken cocoon wrapped in a leaf. Female Luna moths have slender fuzzy antennae. The food (energy) for the adult stage is stored during the caterpillar stage. Like most moths, Luna moths are predominately active at night (nocturnal), but sightings during daylight hours do occur. The mating usually occurs during the first couple of hours after midnight. By using The Spruce, you accept our, Asian Giant Hornets and How to Identify Them, Identifying and Controlling Tomato Hornworms, Why Ants Have Wings Only Sometimes During the Year. The St. Francis Satyr Caterpillar Female luna moths release a sex-attractant pheromone that is used to attract the male moth from a great distance. The male's antennae are larger and bushier than the female's. Luna moth caterpillars also have defense mechanisms against predators. Its name, "Luna," meaning moon, is attributed both to its nocturnal nature as well as the crescent in the eyespot of its wings that resembles a crescent moon. The luna moth molts about five times for three to four weeks until it is about 2.5 inches long. There are a few visible differences between male and female Luna moths. Once the moth mates and lays its eggs, it dies. Although the luna moth larvae are large caterpillars that feed on the leaves of many shrubs and trees, their populations don't grow large enough to be a source of significant damage or destruction. Luna moths are one of the silkworm moths. 21 h Oct 2002. This might look like a boring, fat grub, but it is the caterpillar of the rare Lunar Hornet Moth and because it looks so much like a hornet (a large wasp) it is often killed or even poisoned by people not wanting them in the garden. Although the luna moth larvae are large caterpillars that feed on the leaves of many shrubs and trees, their populations don't grow large enough to cause significant damage or destruction. Luna moths are most likely to be found in forested areas, commonly deciduous woodlands, but can be attracted to well-lighted areas in the evening. Luna moths are not an endangered species, but fewer sightings are apparent in some areas. The spring generation has a pink to reddish-purple outer wing margin. Get daily tips and tricks for making your best home. The adult Luna moth usually emerges from a cocoon in the morning and then climbs to a secure structure where it can expand its wings to dry throughout the day. Luna moths live approximately one week after emerging from the cocoon. Following the sounding of the alarm, the caterpillar will regurgitate a distasteful fluid as a warning. Its body is white, its long legs are pinkish, and its large wings are translucent and lime green. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed. The wing pattern of a Luna moth allows the insect to easily camouflage itself when resting against tree bark or in fallen leaf litter. If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at or 1-888-656-9988. Similar in appearance to the Lunar Hornet Moth it can be distinguished by the yellow patches on the head and shoulder and a black collar. They can also have a variable number of stumpy false legs (called prolegs), which help them to move and cling to things. In the deep south, it is not unusual for Luna moths to have three generations in a single year (March-September). It can be identified by several characteristics: Seen primarily during spring and early summer, the moth typically produces two generations each year. Lunar Hornet Moth Caterpillar Lunar Hornet Moth Caterpillar. Once females lay eggs, they die. In southern Canada, it can be found from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan.