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The Luna moth (Actias luna) is a large, beautiful and easily distinguishable member of the saturnid family found in Eastern North American forests. Adult moths have a wingspan ranging from 80 mm -115 mm, and have long sweeping hindwing tails. They vary in color from yellowish green to pale bluish green. Both sexes are similar in size, but males can be distinguished by their distinctive, feathered antennae, evolved to detect pheromones that females secrete to attract males, even from distant locations. The adult moths are active at night, but have only vestigial mouthparts and not feed; this phase of their life cycle is purely for mating and laying eggs. During the day adult moths are well camouflaged, with their coloring mimicking their surroundings. The large cryptic green caterpillars feed on the leaves of trees such as the hickory, walnut, sumacs, sweet gum, birch and persimmon. Mature caterpillars grow to 65 mm long. When threatened, the caterpillars (like other bombycoid moths) can make a clicking noise with their mandibles and produce a distasteful regurgitation to deter predators. Luna moths are common in popular culture, and have been featured in prominent places such as a 1987 US first class postage stamp, and the 2007 television commercials for Lunesta, a sleep aid.

(Hall 2010; Wikipedia 2011)


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