Entomology Collection TitleImage Bugs Pinned
Species Page - Actias luna
browse search results ->Actias luna ->species page

E-mail this Page   
Print this Page   
Link to this Page   

scientific name    Actias luna    

common name     Luna Moth

The Luna Moth is a denizen of mixedwood and hardwood forests, in Alberta most likely to be found in the northern Boreal forest where white birch is present.

There is a single annual brood in Alberta, with adults in June and possibly early July.

An unmistakable moth! A large (wingspan approximately 10 cm), bright green and yellow-green moth with a long, narrow tail trailing off each hindwing. Each wing also has a small but prominent eyespot, partially ringed with red-brown. Male antennae are broadly bipectinate, female antennae narrowly bipectinate. The body is clothed in fur-like yellow-brown scales.

life history
In Alberta adults appear and mate in June. The larvae feed through the summer until mature in late summer, then pupate in a papery cocoon for the winter. The mature larvae are large, fat-looking bright green caterpillars with a faint yellow lateral stripe and a narrow yellow band bordering each segment. There are several small scarlet dots in a band on each segment. Mature larvae are about 6.5 cm. in length.

The Luna Moth is at the extreme northwestern edge of its range in northeastern Alberta. It's presence in Alberta was confirmed for the first time in 2012, when at least three adults were photographed in Fort McMurray, and the images forwarded to the University of Alberta or the Royal Alberta Museum. It is not uncommon throughout most of its range, and is not considered to be in need of protection in any jurisdiction. The discovery and reporting of Luna Moths at Fort McMurray in 2012 resulting in the Citizens of Fort McMurray being awarded the Alberta Lepidoptera Guild's "Lepidoptera of the Year Award", awarded each year for the most significant lepidoptera discovery of the year.

diet info
Although the Luna is known to use a number of deciduous trees as hosts in eastern North America, birch is one of its most favored and white birch (Betula papyrifera) is the probable host in Alberta.

The Luna Moth is found throughout much the eastern hardwood forests of Canada and the USA. It extends west across Canada in the Boreal forest, barely reaching Alberta in the northeastern corner of the province, where at least three specimens were photographed in June of 2013.

quick link

Comments (9)Add New Comment

Vkjar (2013-06-05)
I have been finding numerous Luna moths NE of Fort McMurray in Saskatchewan this year

Paul knaga (2013-06-18)
We have seen >2 Luna Moths 1 hour north of Fort McMurray this year (2013).

Eugene Manchak (2014-04-11)
About 15 years ago I was picking hazelnuts on the northeast shore of Wizard Lake, Alberta, namely Jubilee park. This is a lake just 40 km. SW of Edmonton.
I encountered a lime green luna moth larvae on the bottomside of a hazelnut leaf. I am certain it was a luna moth larvae because I handled it for a moment. I then talked to a entomologist to confirm what I had seen.
I just thought I would share this info, even if it is 15 years later. My sighting would have been 13 years earlier than the confirmed lunas in 2012. The hazelnuts are still there so the luna moths might still be too. Didn't realize they aren't that common in Albeta.

Kim Martineau (2014-08-24)
We have found a luna moth larva today in Sherwood Park Alberta.

Mandy McIntyre (2016-08-14)
I was out bike riding with my son today (Aug. 12, 2016) and we decovered a very large bright green caterpillar, that was dead on the sidewalk not far from our home in Edmonton, Alberta. under some large elm trees. I was shocked to see a caterpillar of that size around here. It looked like something from the rain forest. I picked it up in a plastic bag and brought it home to show my husband. Upon returning to our house, I took the dead bug outta of the bag and set it on a rock in the back yard. When my husband returned home, I explained what we found and took him to see it outside. The caterpillar was gone. I'm guessing it must have been taken by a bird because it was too big for anything else to carry away. I went onto the Internet and googled the caterpillar. I am 100% positive that this was infact a Luna moth caterpillar.

Jo-Lane Birkigt (2016-08-26)
We just came across a luna caterpillar, just east of Sherwood Park. August 26/2015

Liane K (2016-08-29)
I just found a luna moth caterpillar in south Edmonton while playing at a busy neighborhood park with my kid today. I took some pictures and moved him to a less busy location but there isn't much for trees there at all. Poor guy, hope he does okay. Now that i read a little bit about them i wish i would have moved him somewhere smarter

gerry uitvlugt (2016-08-31)
I found 2 luna larvae under our birch tree after a large wind storm. Only one was alive. Kept it for observation by grandchildren because of its immense size. North Shore of wabamun lake August 30 2016.

B Thacker (2017-06-16)
We have just found one in Fort.Chipewyan Alberta! -(June 16, 2017)-

Comments are published according to our submission guidelines. The EH Strickland Entomological Museum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.

Add New Comment (all fields are required)


Related Species Info
Related Links
Moth Photographers Group


Logo Department of Museums and Collections ServicesLogo University of Alberta