|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.
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.
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.
|species page author||Anweiler, G. G.||2013 |