»Actias luna« and »Actias selene« – two luna moths
The moths »Actias luna« and »Actias selene« in the family of Saturniidae, carry the Moon in their name – maybe because they are attracted to light and we connect them with the night; although, they can also be active during the day. But perhaps it is because of the crescent shaped wings or the pattern on top of the wings, which remind us of eyes that may have contributed to the naming. Luna is the moon goddess in Roman mythology, Selene is the equivalent in Greek mythology.
Actias luna is found in North to Central America, Actias selene in Asian regions. There are also hybrids stemming from these two species.
The caterpillars are approximately 2-3 inches long and feed on specific leaves, depending on the region. After passing through various life cycles, they develop into a pupa. The wing span of adult moths can measure up to 4.5 inches (Actias luna) and up to 6 inches (Actias selene). They only live a short life of a few days that merely serves to reproduce. They do not take in any food, but live of the reserves they acquired during their lives as caterpillar. For mating time, the female lures the male with pheromones (special scent). They copulate for up to 20 hours. Afterwards, the females lay eggs and the natural cycle starts again.
These luna moths are fascinating animals that because of their appearance remind us that beauty cannot only be found in the sunny daylight, but also at night with its soft moonlight.