A Moon Moth and a Monarch

Top Photo: Luna moth waits out the day clinging to a conifer.

It’s always exciting to see a luna moth, whether its clinging to vegetation or gracefully fluttering though the trees. Though nocturnal, they’re quite often seen during the day.

Female luna moth hangs motionless waiting for male to pick up scent.

Males can be told from females by much broader, feathery antennae. The female’s antennae are feathery, but much less so. The added material on the male’s antennae assists in picking up the scent of pheromones given off by the females.

Female antennae.
Male antennae.

There seems to be two flights of luna moths here on the North Carolina Piedmont, one in spring and the other in late July and early August, right now.

The adults live for about a week. You won’t see them at flowers seeking nectar, even at night. Though they have a proboscis, it’s tiny, vestigial, functionless. They’re here to mate, and apparently, nothing else.

Luna moth caterpillar.

Another lepidopteran you may come across here at the museum, is the monarch butterfly. If you inspect the milkweed in front of the Butterfly House, or wherever you encounter it in your travels, give the plant a good going over. Monarchs depend on milkweed for survival. You may see, eggs, caterpillars, a chrysalis, or even an adult.

Hanging from common milkweed leaf, adult monarch with chrysalis it emerged from (left).

Though there are many different types of milkweed, the best for attracting monarchs is common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).

Monarch caterpillar.

Happy hunting.

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