We’ve had quite a few moths hanging about our building in the last month or so. Thanks to Michael (graphic designer) and Kyle (website maintenance), we got some stunning pictures of them. As the self-appointed head of the BlueCotton.com Biology Dept., I love being the on-staff specialist prepared to identify the critters that grace (or menace) us with their presence.
The first moth that came our way was the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia), the largest moth found in North America. This moth is the member of the large moth family Saturniidae. I measured the wingspan of the one pictured at six inches (average wingspan for the species is 4 3/4″ to 5 7/8″)! As a caterpillar, this furry guy eats foliage of trees and shrubs (e.g. maple, wild cherry, willow) and is found in the Eastern US and Southern Canada. Little did we know, this moth was on its last legs–it died the day after Michael took the photos.
Photo credit: Michael
Matt, one of our graphic designers, noticed two gorgeous Luna Moths (Actias luna) hanging out on his window screen. These large moths are also in the Saturniidae family and are only found in North America. Their common name, Luna, perhaps comes from their typically nocturnal lifestyle or their pale, moonlight color. As a caterpillar, this species feeds on walnut, sweet gum, persimmon and birch foliage. The wingspan on the first (and larger) moth pictured was five inches. I’m glad we got to see these guys up close–apparently Luna moth populations have been threatened by pesticides and other pollution in some areas.
Photo credit: Kyle
The Biology Dept. (all one of me) is always enthusiastic about connecting our natural world to the world in which we work. Hope you enjoyed this blog.
Information sourced from the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (2004) and University of Kentucky’s Entomology website. http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef008.asp