Friday, July 5, 2024




 Ethereal Beings


One April day I opened my front door and my attention was immediately drawn to loud munching coming from the vine directly in front of me. I stared at the source of the sound, willing the culprit who was devouring the vine to become visible. Nothing. The sound continued unabated. I was puzzled. Why couldn’t I see the guilty party, when the source of the sound was literally right under my nose? He didn’t even try to carry out his work stealthily, but undaunted by my presence—continued his loud, defiant munching. As the minutes ticked by, I became more and more determined to find out just who or what was making the sound.

As I peered into the tangled network of leaves, I spied a small furry head with what appeared to be button-sized ears moving rhythmically with the munching. What I thought to be ears unfurled and became two feathery antennae. I could hardly believe it—yes it was! I realized that I was witnessing a moth chewing its way out of the cocoon. And not just any moth, but the stunning Luna Moth. This is the moth that has earned the moniker “Kings and Queens of the Night” because they are so stunning.

My attention still firmly fixed on the vine, I gazed in open-mouthed amazement as a pink and green body appeared with two tiny crumpled wings. As mere seconds passed, more of the moth’s body appeared until a good six inches were visible. This was shaping up to be an ENORMOUS moth—what was happening?

Next, the moth climbed up to a twig a few inches above its former home. Immediately the length of its body shortened to about four inches. What a trick! This happens because the moth pumps fluid from its body into its wings. After 20-60 minutes, the wings reach their full size. The Luna spends an additional few hours clinging to a twig and       drying its wings.                                                        Luna moth with purple edging on                                                                                                             wings

In the space of a few hours the tiny crumpled wings became works of art. Each one measures up to 2-1/2 inches in width—that means a 5 inch wingspan!! The wings end in long tails— like a gentleman’s coattails--that extend beyond the moth’s body. They are a deep lime green—so green that you could get lost in the wide expanse of color. A margin of pink, magenta, purple or yellow outlines each wing.



                                       Luna moth with magenta edging on wings,
                                       resting on a boot
                                      Photo credit:Wikiphotos

Each one carries a life insurance policy. It is in the form of a large transparent spot with a dark border that broadcasts to potential predators that the moths will taste nasty if eaten.

By nightfall the wings are dry and the Luna is ready to fly off in search of love. As with all moths, Lunas are most active at night.

The feathery antennae are well adapted to picking up scents called pheromones which are chemicals emitted by moths to broadcast their gender and help them to find a mate. Luna moths can detect mates from as much as a mile away.


                                          
                                                     Close-up of feathery antenna

Photo credit: Mike McCaffrey GFDL-WITH-DISCLAIMERS; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.


They will live for one week.

During her last week the female Luna busies herself laying eggs that will mature into caterpillars. The caterpillars that aren’t picked off by predators will pull leaves together and spin a cocoon around themselves. In 2-3 weeks they will emerge to begin their lives as stunning Luna moths. Which brings us back to that sunny April day on my porch!


Jill Deming

Canine Therapy Services

jilldeming8@gmail.com

































 Ethereal Beings of the Night


One April day I opened my front door and my attention was immediately drawn to loud munching coming from the vine directly in front of me. I stared at the source of the sound, willing the culprit who was devouring the vine to become visible. Nothing. The sound continued unabated. I was puzzled. Why couldn’t I see the guilty party, when the source of the sound was literally right under my nose? He didn’t even try to carry out his work stealthily, but undaunted by my presence—continued his loud, defiant munching. As the minutes ticked by, I became more and more determined to find out just who or what was making the sound.


As I peered into the tangled network of leaves, I spied a small furry head with what appeared to be button-sized ears moving rhythmically with the munching. What I thought to be ears unfurled and became two feathery antennae. I could hardly believe it—yes it was! I realized that I was witnessing a moth chewing its way out of the cocoon. And not just any moth, but the stunning Luna Moth. This is the moth that has earned the moniker “Kings and Queens of the Night” because they are so stunning.


My attention still firmly fixed on the vine, I gazed in open mouthed amazement as a pink and green body appeared with two tiny crumpled wings. As mere seconds passed, more of the moth’s body appeared until a good six inches were visible. This was shaping up to be an ENORMOUS moth—what was happening?


Next, the moth climbed up to a twig a few inches above its former home. Immediately the length of its body shortened to about four inches. What a trick! This happens because the moth pumps fluid from its body into its wings. After 20-60 minutes, the wings reach their full size. The Luna spends an additional few hours clinging to a twig and drying its wings.


In the space of a few hours the tiny crumpled wings became works of art. Each one measures up to 2-1/2 inches in width—that means a 5 inch wingspan!! The wings end in long tails— like a gentleman’s coattails--that extend beyond the moth’s body. They are a deep lime green—so green that you could get lost in the wide expanse of color. A margin of pink, magenta, purple or yellow outlines each wing.


Each one carries a life insurance policy. It is in the form of a large transparent spot with a dark border that broadcasts to potential predators that the moths will taste nasty if eaten.


By nightfall the wings are dry and the Luna is ready to fly off in search of love. As with all moths, Lunas are most active at night.


The feathery antennae are well adapted to picking up scents called pheromones which are chemicals emitted by moths to broadcast their gender and help them to find a mate. Luna moths can detect mates from as much as a mile away.


They will live for one week.


During her last week the female Luna busies herself laying eggs that will mature into caterpillars. The caterpillars that aren’t picked off by predators will pull leaves together and spin a cocoon around themselves. In 2-3 weeks they will emerge to begin their lives as stunning Luna moths. Which brings us back to that sunny April day on my porch!































  Ethereal Beings One April day I opened my front door and my attention was immediately drawn to loud munching coming from the vine directly...