Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another Luna Moth

A couple of weeks ago, we ran across a recently emerged Luna Moth (Actias luna) at the Fishing Creek WMA in Wilkes County Georgia. W spotted this one in the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge as we drove south along Allison Creek Rd from the Woodpecker Trail trail head but before it crossed Allison Creek. The moth had emerged from its pupa and climbed up a dead twig to expand and dry its wings. These photographs were taken at about 6:00 pm EDT on August 20, 2011.

From a distance. The moth is at the edge of the woods – in the center of the photograph just below the base of the tree.

A closer view.

Much closer. It was possible to sit beside it and photograph.

A close view of the ‘eye’ on the forewing.

A side view showing the large body size. The body size was smaller and drier than the one we saw at Fishing Creek WMA.

A view from above

The antennae. This moth is a male. See the difference between antennae in males and females.

I was busy taking photographs. I was aware that the moth had moved but hadn’t seen what happened. W said, ‘It peed.’ Not exactly a scientific description but, indeed, it had expelled quite a volume of cloudy fliuid – onto a leaf where we could see the volume; I estimated that the moth had expelled about 0,5 ml of fluid. The moth voids reddish-colored, liquid meconium which is composed of the breakdown waste products of the old larval tissues. In this case, we had seen the moth expel fluid later in the process; the fluid was cloudy but no longer reddish-brown.

See more information on the life cycle of the Luna Moth here.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- BugGuide: Luna Moth (Actias luna)

Related post:

- Luna Moth (Actias luna)


Mike B. @ said...

Fantastic photos! What a find- Love the eyespots.

JSK said...

This seems to be the best time to photograph them - while they're completing their emergence. They don't seem to be bothered by the activity. They make wonderful models.

Johnny Nutcase said...

Big fan of these guys, love the marcos - great sighting!

rebecca said...

Very cool! I recently discovered lepidopteran meconium myself when the monarchs our students were studying emerged from their chrysalises. Each jar had a little blob of red-brown residue on its bottom.

JSK said...

Neat! I was a little disappointed to find that mine should have had some pigment. But it was impressive that the volume of fluid was about a quarter of the size of the moths body.