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How Long Does the Luna Moth Live?

The Luna Moth or the Actias luna is one of the largest moth species that can be found in North America. It has a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches, and they are commonly found in deciduous forests. But did you know how long these moths survive?

Unfortunately, the Luna Moth has a short lifespan. Once they reach adulthood, they can only survive for a week or less. They die of starvation because they do not have mouths in this stage of their lives.

Where Can You Find A Luna Moth?

A deciduous forest is a kind of woodland covered in seasonal trees that lose their foliage at the end of the growing season. These forests go through all four seasons instead of evergreen forests that have trees that say green all year round. The Luna Month thrives in deciduous woods and can be commonly found in Saskatchewan, Texas, Nova Scotia, and Florida. Scientists who have extensively studied the moth believe that they have adapted to hardwood trees like birch, hickory, beech, willow, and cherry. (Source: Finger Lakes Land Trust)

Where Did the Luna Moth Get Its Name?

In 1758, Carl Linnaeus named the moth after the Roman moon goddess, Luna. This is because of the moth’s distinctive spots, which looked like translucent discs with dark crescent edges, resembling the moon when it is nearly full. It is also said that the moth was a living avatar of the moon’s cycle – at rest during the day, active by nightfall. (Source: Finger Lakes Land Trust)

The Life Cycle of A Luna Moth

The larvae of the Luna Moth have five molting stages. They finally form a pupa with a paper-like cocoon and wrapped in leaves. After three weeks, their metamorphosis is complete, and the adult Luna Moth is ready to cut its way through the pupa. They usually leave their pupa in the morning, which allows them to dry off their wings before nightfall arrives. The first night of them leaving the cocoon is also their first night flying.

Adult Luna Moths are unable to eat. Due to the lack of a digestive system and a functional mouth. Their only role as an adult is to reproduce. They must accomplish this task within a week before they pass.

Female Luna Moths emit a sex pheromone to attract males. Their pheromones can be detected from great distances with their large and feathery antenna. They commonly mate after midnight, then the females start laying their eggs by the following night. The process continues up until their pass of starvation. The eggs then hatch after a week, and the cycle starts anew.

In Northern regions, Luna Moths typically breed once a year. While they breed up to three times a year in the south. (Source: Finger Lakes Land Trust)

How Do Luna Moths Avoid Predators?

Luna Moths rely heavily on camouflage as adults. Their large green wings with reddish-brown edges blend in well with leaf clusters. They have also evolved acoustic camouflage by twisting their long tail. This helps them evade echolocating bats. According to research done in 2015, biologists from the Boise State University found that 81% of the Luna Moths caught by bats did not have their long tails anymore. (Source: Finger Lakes Land Trust)

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