Perhaps the most visually spectacular moth in the northeast, the Luna Moth’s otherworldly aura has made it perhaps the most famous and beloved member of the nocturnal insect world. Luckily, they are common in this region. Adults are very strong fliers and are attracted to lights. Mating takes place after midnight, and egg laying begins that evening. Females release a pheromone attracting males and lay eggs in small groups or singly on both surfaces of host plant leaves. Both adults die soon after mating. The eggs hatch in about one week and the caterpillars are sedentary and solitary feeders. Leaves and silk are used to spin papery brown cocoons in leaf litter under the host plant.
Unmistakable. Wings are pale green, each with a transparent eyespot. Hindwings have long twisted and curved tails. Outer margins can be either pink or yellow in Vermont.
Resident – common
Apparently only one brood in Vermont (2-3 broods south). Their flight period is from the end of May through mid July, but the best chance to catch a glimpse of this wondrous insect in Vermont is near the beginning of June. Extreme dates: 20 May 2004 in Bethel (B. Pfieffer), 21 September 2003 in Pomfret, and 12 October 1998 in Hinesburg (S.L. Gauthier).
Distribution and Habitat
Found throughout Vermont in hardwood forests. Larvae utilize a variety of host plants including White Birch (Betula papyrifera) and Hickories (Carya).
View a live map of reported observations on iNaturalist Vermont.
Read species account on iNaturalist