Some Interesting Facts about the Luna Moth in the U.S.

Updated on June 8, 2016

Luna Moth - Actias luna

I think these are beautiful and so interesting!
I think these are beautiful and so interesting! | Source

Luna Moths, Actias Luna

I recall the first time I saw a Luna Moth, and I was so amazed. It was such an interesting color, and had such unique markings, and the size alone was eyecatching. I was able to capture it in a picture, and I was so glad. It got me curious to learn more about the Luna moth, which is also known as the American Moon Moth.

This beautiful and exotic moth is large. It ranges from 3 to 4.5 inches and the name is technically Actias Luna (Linnaeus). Its wings are a pale green, and has delicate tail streamers. The wings are broad, and have a reddish rust color along the edges of both the fore wings and hind wings. Depending on the region, the colors can vary from more bluish green to a yellow in the background coloring. Along the fore wings in the very front you will see a darker purplish gray color. From a distance however, it is primarily a beautiful lime green, and the very distinctive "eye spots" are just fascinating to observe. This surely helps to protect from would be predators, that would rather move on than mess around with something that has eyes that appear to be that big!

In the United States, these moths are actually fairly common in the Eastern United States, and some states, like Missouri, Arkansas and others. You can sometimes see them in Southern Canada. Luna moths are large enough, that you would see the shadow of them flying by, or could darken a room if they landed on a light bulb!

The Beautiful, Green, Luna Moth

The beautiful Luna Moth.  Not something you see everyday!
The beautiful Luna Moth. Not something you see everyday! | Source

Luna Moth Larva and Life Cycle

The larva of the Luna moth are bright green (see video below) and have narrow yellow lines on them. There is a band of yellowish spiracles, and some reddish colored tubercles on each side. some have observed raised pink spots, and this can vary from region to region. The head of the caterpillar is a brownish color. When the time comes for it to spin its cocoon it will do so in areas where there is a lot of leaves on the ground, among the leaves. Its cocoon is thin and silken.

The habitat you will most often find the Luna moth is deciduous woodland in North America, although there are fewer in Canada. The foliage of trees like birch, willow and alder, walnut (or juglans nigra), persimmon (or diospyros virginiana), and sweet gum (liquidambar stryaciflua) are the food the larva feed off of. Luna Moths like broad leaved forests, including ones with hickory trees. So if you hope to attract these beauties to your area, those would be good choices to plant. The adults will be attracted to areas with these trees, so their young have the right food to eat when they "hatch" from their eggs.

The adults will emerge from their cocoons in April, usually. Their cocoon is often found in leaf litter. The eggs will be laid on hickory, walnut, and possibly a few other trees, as was covered before. When the caterpillar is ready to make its cocoon, it uses silk and leaves to do so. It emerges as a second generation adult in late July, and may even have a third generation.

As far as the second or third generation possibility, this is the case for the United States, more than it is true for the more Northern areas like in Canada. In those areas, it is usually just one generation. The more southern the area, you can move up to a third generation. Maybe that is why I got lucky and saw one in Arkansas. It was the first time I saw one in person.

Basically, for the multiple generations, they are spaced every eight to ten weeks apart, and often start in March.

The female lays 4-600 eggs on the underside of leaves. These incubate for 8-13 days.

Front View of the Luna Moth

A different angle
A different angle | Source

I just love the distinctive color of the luna moth, along with its long tails. It definitely stand out among other moths, especially for North American Moths. In the Midwest states, the luna moth flies from early April, to the end of August.

Both of the sexes of the Lunar moth look very similar, though the males antennae are more "feathered" looking. 

They have their "calling time" around the midnight hour. The calling time for the luna moth (and for many moths) is when pheromones are released. The time frame for luna moths is two to three hours long. This is the time that most males are active. In the Saturniidae family, you will see the pheromone activity the most active compared to the other "families" of butterflies and moths. Once in a mating position, they can stay there for up to 20 hours. 

The life span is fairly short for these moths, about two weeks or less. They overwinter in the pupal stage.

I wish you could see the one picture more close up, as it shows the luna moths feathery antennae. These moths are just amazing creatures to behold, and I felt very lucky that day in Arkansas when I saw the moth. It was just resting among the rocks as you can see in my picture.

Actias luna, Pancake Bay.
Actias luna, Pancake Bay. | Source

Seeing Less and Less of the Luna Moths

In some areas where there has been a lot of spraying with pesticides, it could be very rare you see one of these beautiful Luna Moths. They are simply becoming harder and harder to find. Evidently, even in the best of conditions, the number of Luna Moths are rather small. A single planeload of pesticides can supposedly wipe out the species for decades! When I heard this, I was so sad. I understand the need for pesticides, but if this species was totally wiped out, I think I may have rather gone with the lack of pesticides. I suppose it depends on the survival of humanity, but we are not at a point where this seems to be a critical concern. So it is something worth thinking about, or possibly limiting.

Luna Moth Poll

Have you ever seen a luna moth in the wild?

See results

© 2010 Paula

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    • profile image

      Lvshorses777 

      40 hours ago

      Lung seems to be doing good and has her own big house now. I have pos posted of her on my hub account page

    • Lvshorses777 profile image

      Lvshorses777 

      2 days ago

      I found one last night with a broken wing at a rodeo in Wilsonville Alabama and was trying to find out what to feed it. And it brought me to this site. I still have it and will try and keep it alive as long as I can. I live in Sylacauga Alabama. I wish I could put a picture of him on here. Any help on how to keep him alive will be appreciated, And yes I know he probably won’t make it but I’m going to try anyway. So please just comment with what you know will help, Thanks

    • profile image

      Gigi 

      6 days ago

      Found a male resting on the front wheel of a car I was test driving in Winston-Salem, NC last week!

    • profile image

      Barbara 

      7 days ago

      5/13/19 Visiting family in Norfork, AR- Ozark Forrest. A male luna moth has landed on the front window ledge of our home tonight.

    • profile image

      Mike from manville nj 

      10 days ago

      My wife found one at work a week ago. My 12 year old grandson put it in his butterfly habitat indoors because the nights are still cold here in jersey. It truly is beautiful.

    • profile image

      Beth 

      2 weeks ago

      I came home to one by my front door tonight. I had to look it up and see what kind of moth it was. Palestine, Tx

    • profile image

      Tayden 

      2 weeks ago

      i just found a female luna moth today!

    • profile image

      Karen 

      2 weeks ago

      Yesterday we found one in the forest in wilburton OK

    • profile image

      Melissa 

      2 weeks ago

      I don’t know how unusual this is but I live in the Foothills of SanDiego and last night by my porch light I saw my first green moth. Absolutely stunning and a beautiful lime green. I didn’t see much of any markings , maybe just hatched?I regret not grabbing my camera. Hopefully I will get a second chance .

    • profile image

      Elaine S. McIlroy-Hargrove 

      2 weeks ago

      I had never seen one of these beauties until today. My husband it appeared last night on the inside of our three sided front porch.

    • profile image

      me 

      2 weeks ago

      at my old house we had them and the babies would build cocoons in your boots if you didn't wear them everyday

    • profile image

      Damary Gonzalez 

      2 weeks ago

      I saw a beautiful Luna sunning itself at my door this morning. Unfortunately, my dog was also interested in it and made it fly away. I live in Virginia Beach, VA.

    • profile image

      Terrie Berryhill 

      3 weeks ago

      I have never seen one before, this morning at my mothers in Marlow, OK I saw one. Then my sister in town a few miles from Marlow, Duncan OK had one on her porch. What a treat!!

    • profile image

      Nina B 

      3 weeks ago

      Just found one on our door this morning. Just beautiful. West Monroe, LA

    • profile image

      Kim 

      3 weeks ago

      I have one on my screen on my back deck as I am typing this,, I got some pics of him.. York PA.

    • profile image

      B. E. Bradley 

      3 weeks ago

      Had never seen in person before until Saturday night, when our kitten caught it here in Mansfield, TX, about 8p. My quick-sighted husband rescued it, wherein it flew inside the house and shakily rested on the wall for an hour or more, so we got a very good look at this girl. Eventually, I used a glass terrarium to gently move it outside to a bush. It had departed the bush by 11:30p. Lucky us!

    • profile image

      Fay Conant 

      4 weeks ago

      I live in Murphy, NC and the other morning I went on my porch and found 10 of these beauties. I was amazed. Yesterday I only had two.

    • profile image

      Mauntez Mayer 

      5 weeks ago

      We had a Luna Moth on our front porch last night. It was beautiful! I had never seen one before. I took a picture of it and looked it up to see what it was.

      Gadsden, Al

    • profile image

      MimiV 

      5 weeks ago

      There’s a beautiful Luna on my porch! You have a lovely site. Thank you for sharing your interest and knowledge.

      Huntsville, AL

    • profile image

      Lea 

      5 weeks ago

      I have one that's on my front porch for the last 2 days. Coastal NC

    • profile image

      Leon Holzman 

      6 weeks ago

      We are wanting for one to come out of their cocoon now. 4/7/2019

    • profile image

      lol 

      6 weeks ago

      i just cuaght one right now.

    • profile image

      sid from Houston 

      2 months ago

      I just found 2 in my garden! First time.

    • profile image

      Greasy_Egg 

      2 months ago

      I found one of these luna moths at noon I was so amazed by its color and size it could not fly but hop around I took the moth home and it somewhat became attached to me.I eventualy left it in my garden but came back to see it disappeared.I think a bird might have eaten it.I named the moth beatrix.R.I.P bea :c

    • profile image

      James Bker 

      2 months ago

      I have three on my front porch right now in March - Central Florida

    • profile image

      Announamu 

      5 months ago

      They eat grass or bark but there adults have no mouth

    • profile image

      Ellie 

      5 months ago

      I saw a luna moth for the first time last night in Crystal River, Fl. It was so beautiful.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      7 months ago from The Midwest, USA

      Melissa, I think it is great that Luna Moths are so common in your area! I too think they are beautiful creatures, worthy of protecting even from curious kitties. Thanks for sharing, Paula

    • Melissa Meadow profile image

      Melissa Meadow 

      7 months ago from United States

      Luna Moths are very common in my area (Tennessee). I love them and feel such a thrill when they start to appear every spring. I become a "moth police" because my cats love to try and catch/kill them. I'm often seen out quite late observing these amazing creatures and keeping them safe from my curious kitties.

      They are absolutely beautiful creatures. I've even considered a Luna Moth tattoo!

      Great read!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      7 months ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thank you all for sharing how the Luna Moth is appearing in your area and your experiences with them! I think it is wonderful that so many people love spotting these beautiful creatures.

      To Kelli, thank you for sharing how your family has done so much with the Luna Moths in your area. I too would be so happy to see such activity in my area with Luna Moths. You are creating wonderful memories for your family across multiple generations. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Kelli Bramlett 

      7 months ago

      I love the Luna Moth. I have hatched out several and released, only to be shocked when a day or so later, after release, 2 returned and appeared to be mating. That is what began our family researching details of the biology. Last night we had 6 of them here. What a joy for me, my daughters, and granddaughter.

    • profile image

      C.m 

      8 months ago

      We have had them at our home all summer long, beautiful to see, have a photo

    • profile image

      Nancy 

      8 months ago

      My husband and I saw one yesterday on a brick pillar in front of a store in New Bern, NC. Neither one of us had seen one before. I'm going to check for a kite made in its image. Beautiful.

    • profile image

      Paul 

      8 months ago

      I had one fly in my window this evening , i live around houston

    • profile image

      Me 

      8 months ago

      I've seen two in the last couple months. I had no idea what it was and it totally freaked me out. I'm from CT, but I live in GA now and have never experienced a bug that size before. Those two were good enough for me. I hope to never see one again. Not a nature fan.

    • profile image

      dale 

      8 months ago

      just saw one im 55 and i have not saw one since i was 10

    • profile image

      Tina 

      8 months ago

      I was able to take a picture of a Luna moth sitting on the front of my sister's brick house last night! Beautiful!

    • profile image

      Meg 

      8 months ago

      I have one living in my jalapeno plant!!!!

    • profile image

      Wendy Abrams 

      8 months ago

      A beautiful Luna moth just landed on my front porch in Cordova, TN.

    • profile image

      angela 

      9 months ago

      I just saw one in Atlanta Georgia wow

    • profile image

      Donna 

      9 months ago

      Have had a couple of them visit my kitchen window . BEAUTIFUL!! This last one is missing it’s hind wings like something bit or ripped half off. Sad

    • profile image

      Frank viton 

      9 months ago

      I saw one last night around 4 in the morning struggling the fly, I think it's going to die it's struggling but it is a beautiful moth

    • profile image

      Lea Ashley 

      9 months ago

      We have one today that has landed on our brick building wall. Amazingly beautiful!

    • profile image

      Mona 

      9 months ago

      I saw a Luna caterpillar yesterday here in Colorado, my co-worker and I put it in a tank and this morning when we came in he was in a cocoon. We are excited to see him emerge from it.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      9 months ago

      Just saw one here in North Central Kentucky. I usually see one or two a year

    • profile image

      Kbug 

      9 months ago

      Just saw one today in Missouri Valley, Iowa

    • profile image

      Pojo 

      9 months ago

      South central PA we have had one on our porch for two days now.

    • profile image

      Deanna 

      9 months ago

      Found one tonight on my screen around 11 at night in Annapolis. so beautiful.

    • profile image

      David D 

      9 months ago

      Found a Luna moth today near Hartford CT. I believe it was a mail because it had large antennae. It wasn’t moving around a lot and so I gently put it in a quiet landscaped area under the shade of a tree for the day.

    • profile image

      Dan Webstet 

      9 months ago

      Just saved a Luna moth from certain death in the road. Beautiful

    • profile image

      Julie L 

      9 months ago

      Just had one on the interior wall of my front porch in Tulsa OK several days ago.

    • profile image

      Ken 

      9 months ago

      Greated by one this evening at my door step. Pretty cool. Wish I could post the photo.

    • profile image

      Francine 

      9 months ago

      Have seen one for two days in Waxhaw, NC....only my second sighting in seventy years!

    • profile image

      Barrie 

      9 months ago

      Saw one in Greenville, SC yesterday

    • profile image

      Dee 

      9 months ago

      We saw one today on the shore of Lake Michigan (Michigan side) in a wooded area next to our beach house.

    • profile image

      Emily 

      9 months ago

      We saw one in Nantahala Gorge, NC!

    • profile image

      David Cole 

      9 months ago

      Saw one tonight in Hendersonville, NC

    • profile image

      Elizabeth NJ 

      9 months ago

      Saw a Luna moth for the first time today in New Jersey

    • profile image

      Shaun in MD 

      9 months ago

      I just my second Luna moth on the screen of one of my windows. That’s pretty sad I’ve only seen two in 58 years, but I suppose if they weren’t rare, it wouldn’t be so special to see one.

    • profile image

      Cheryl Powell 

      9 months ago

      I recently moved to Arkansas and saw my first Luna moth. It is beautiful and I feel blessed to have seen it. Wish I could share a photo

    • profile image

      Jeannine 

      9 months ago

      I have two Luna Moths on my carport wall right now! They are so beautiful! I saw two Luna Moths a couple of years ago mating and did not know how special they were until I researched them. We have a hickory tree nearby, and apparently the caterpillars feast on the leaves.

      Knoxville, TN

    • profile image

      Joan cohen 

      9 months ago

      A few years ago I spotted a nesting catbird trying to wrestle a luna back to its nest. The moth managed to break free several times and got away as I got closer and the bird took cover.

    • profile image

      lori 

      9 months ago

      A luna moth visited me for two days in hot springs ar. Just beautiful ! Took 3 pics with my hand in photo id like to share pics

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      10 months ago

      I rescued a Luna moth that had become disoriented after getting inside my closed garage in Shelbyville, KY. The moth was so large, i heard its wings flapping before I saw the moth itself.

    • profile image

      Marde 

      10 months ago

      I found your site by researching “moths with green wings” after my cat brought one in the house last night! Unfortunately, my cat used the beautiful creature as a toy

    • profile image

      Kathy 

      10 months ago

      I saw a Luna moth clinging to a trash bin which was located next to the door of a grocery store! I live in St. Louis and never expected to see such a beautiful product of nature.

    • profile image

      Bill 

      10 months ago

      I am in Nova Scotia and have one on my screen door. I almost fainted at the size of it. Wonderful colour.

    • profile image

      Lcagee 

      10 months ago

      Northern Vermont. I have seen one 5 different nights. July 2018. The first one I've seen in 10 years.

    • profile image

      Mrs. Weston 

      10 months ago

      We have a Luna Moth on our cabin balcony in Ryegate, Vermont. I’m a New Yorker and have never seen one before. It is stunning! What a wonderful treat for my husband, kids and I!

    • profile image

      Judy Tharp 

      10 months ago

      July 8, 2018 Luna Moth on our deck in Vermont, it doesn't have the second set of "eye spots". The one I saw 4 weeks ago had great big Eye Spots

    • profile image

      Jason 

      10 months ago

      There is a Luna Moth on my back door now. It has been there for the last couple of days. (Nova Scotia, Canada)

    • profile image

      Marsha 

      10 months ago

      I found a catapillar in September. A Luna, when will it hatch?

    • profile image

      Lorna Penner 

      10 months ago

      What do they eat?? clothing or food or what else?

    • profile image

      Pamela Hanny 

      10 months ago

      I saw one on my cypress tree in June. Just magical

      I don’t use any pesticides in my gardens or on the lawn

      Sad they only live a short time. They are magnificent

    • profile image

      Joanne 

      10 months ago

      Saw one in our yard on June 23 in Nova Scotia Canada! We almost ran over it with the lawn mower, thought it was a leaf!! So pretty

    • profile image

      Gene 

      11 months ago

      We've had a Luna moth hanging on one of the screens on our screened in porch since this morning, it's the first one I've ever seen.

    • profile image

      Nancy 

      11 months ago

      Just this morning one was resting on the wall by my front door. Beautiful creature!

    • profile image

      Brenda 

      11 months ago

      One is currently at our window in the NH White Mountains (11pm). Gorgeous!

    • profile image

      Deb 

      11 months ago

      Saw one 6:30ish on my morning walk today (6-17-18) here near Myrtle Beach, SC. Amazing.

    • profile image

      S. Fierro 

      11 months ago

      Saw my first Luna Moth on Thursday night, June 14, 2018. The beautiful moth was on the mud room back door and flew into the garage when we opened the door. We left the garage door open for quite a while and then closed it. Our son took a picture of it the next day hanging off the light fixture. We live in Mid-coast Maine.

    • profile image

      K Faucher 

      11 months ago

      I saw one on my outside door in Central Mass yesterday and again this morning, although this morning it looked like he was having difficulties trying to walk (leaning to one side) I put him in my green garden in hopes he will recover and fly away. He is absolutely beautiful.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      11 months ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Peggy, Absolutely! I love nature so much and find these creatures simply amazing. I don't see them often, and hardly ever lately. Your thought is similar to one I have had before, with the pesticides. I hope they always thrive. Paula

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      11 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I have never personally spotted a luna moth but thanks for introducing me to it. Hopefully it will survive pesticides and continue to flourish in the wild.

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      11 months ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Alexandra, thanks for sharing! I hope to see one here yet! I agree Luna Moths are enchanted little beings. Paula

    • profile image

      Alexandra 

      11 months ago

      First sighting this year in PA … they are enchanted little Beings!

    • oceansnsunsets profile imageAUTHOR

      Paula 

      11 months ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Linda, Luna moths are such amazing creatures, and I love that you thought it was a decoration even! They look just amazing, and I find them fascinating. Thanks for sharing here! Paula

    • profile image

      Linda K 

      11 months ago

      Saw my first one this morning on the door of the apartment we are moving into! Thought it was a decoration from the people who had moved out, until I picked it up and one of its wings moved.

    • profile image

      KayKay 

      12 months ago

      5/24/18...Tennessee...I was walking up the steps and saw this big green creature...I took it for a leaf or something so I ignored it...got to my door and there was one on the wall of house...I have never seen this thing before so it scared me...1st one male (I Googled it) couldn't tell of second one (rushing to get in house)...if not for my daughter, (who seems to know everything) I was heading straight for the bug killer cause I didn't want it getting in the house...since I know a little more about it and the life span is not that long...I will let them be...unless it gets in the house...

    • profile image

      Roro 

      12 months ago

      I forgot to add to my comment it was May 22, 2018

    • profile image

      Roro 

      12 months ago

      Saw this beautiful species in Lawrence, Long island New York

    • profile image

      B DeStefano 

      12 months ago

      Saw one on 5-22-18 on my back deck, freaked me out at first but then I realized it was some kind of moth. Litchfield county CT

    • profile image

      Jam 

      12 months ago

      I saw a luna moth, and it laid eggs on a chain link fence. Is that normal?

    • profile image

      Tina L 

      12 months ago

      We have a beautiful one at our front door today!

      Athens, Georgia

    • profile image

      T. Moore 

      12 months ago

      Greensboro , North Carolina near Lake Townsend- had a Luna Moth this morning on my house under patio light.

    • profile image

      Barb 

      12 months ago

      We had two flying around outside are patio door. It was around 10:30 pm and we took picture of it. My cat was after them and knock one down,but both of them were gone in morning.We live near Morgantown,Pa.

    • profile image

      Jamie 

      12 months ago

      On 8/31/17 my daughter found a Luna Moth worm. So we took it home and put it in a big open glass bowl. I have documented it with photos. What an amazing sight so far. Found out with the help of google, that it didn’t like apple trees but loves diamond willow. We placed the willow branches in the bowl and it immediately started its cocoon. On 9/1/17 at 6:00am it started its silk and finished on 9/2/17 at 3:30pm. Been waiting all winter for it to hatch. I thought maybe it had died but now know it can take until July for it to become a Moth. Wish I could share the photos! I will update when it turns to a beautiful Luna Moth :) Hope you all are enjoying nature’s beauty!

    • profile image

      Chris 

      12 months ago

      I just saw a Luna moth in Columbus Ohio sitting next to my front door at 12 am. He had to be every bit of 5 inches. I didn't know what it was and it kind of freaked me out.

    • profile image

      Karen Piczkur 

      12 months ago

      I saw a Luna Moth for the first time ever on 05/14/18. It was sitting in the grass outside Magna Seating South Carolina in Moore, SC. It appeared to be a leaf.

    • profile image

      Charles Meriweath 

      12 months ago

      I had a Luna moth land on my back at work last night. I was able to get a picture of it greenwood, sc

    • profile image

      James 

      12 months ago

      Just saw my first Luna moth next to my sweetgum tree here in Tampa. Beautiful.

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