Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Luna Moth - (Actias luna)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/19/2014

Sightings of the Luna Moth send North Americans over the moon.

This large, pale green Giant Silkmoth can be found in hardwood forests. Luna Moths are unique to North America. Their bright green wings extend into long, thin tails. A downy coating covers the forewings and hindwings. Four distinctive eyespots adorn their wings and their antennae are very feathery. This particular species has become quite recognizable thanks to its adoption as a spokesmodel by a popular sleeping medication.

Luna moths are greatly attracted to lights at night so leaving a porch light on will increase the likelihood of spotting one. They are sensitive to the environment. Light pollution (constant light at night), pesticides and parasitic flies all harm this delicate species. They are only found in North America and wild populations are threatened due to these sensitivities. Unfortunately, they are not listed as endangered by the IUCN or the EPA, so curbs on light pollution and pesticides in their habitat are unlikely to stop.

Populations are being bred in captivity and are often used in classrooms to teach about butterfly life cycles and their role in the environment.

As a member of the Silkmoth family, the larvae (caterpillar) of the Luna moth spins a silky cocoon. Larvae eat the leaves on birch, sweetgum, hickory and walnut trees. Caterpillars are chubby and pale green with a few bristles atop each segment.

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Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Luna Moth
Scientific Name: Actias luna

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Lepidoptera
      Family: Saturniidae
       Genus: Actias
        Species: luna

Adult Size (Length): 75mm to 105mm (2.95in to 4.13in)

Identifying Colors: green; yellow; white; pink; purple

Additional Descriptors: hairy, downy, fuzzy, flying, endangered

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.