Friday, October 14, 2011

Moths of the Walnut Tree

The stunning Luna Moth

One of my most vivid memories as a young boy is from a rare family vacation that we took to North Carolina.  My father had rented a cabin in the mountains, and the whole family went for about a week in the late summer/early autumn.  One evening we were out on the porch, and I was amazed and enthralled with the number and variety of moths that were attracted to the floodlight over the door.  There were dozens of different types of moths fluttering around or just resting within the halo of light.  One moth in particular seemed to be the size of a dinner plate and appeared to almost glow with a brilliant, shimmering green.  It was docile and calmly climbed onto my hand.  I was giddy with excitement.  I believe the next day, when we went to town, my father bought me a book on insects.  To be honest, I can't recall if the purchase of this book actually took place on this trip or after we got back to Florida, but I am pretty sure I had the book while we were on the trip.  The ephemeral green creature was identified as a Luna Moth, and it was in reality a bit smaller than a dinner plate.  However, I cannot see a Luna Moth, or really any brightly colored moth in the evening, without fondly remembering that night on a wood porch in North Carolina.

The Luna Moth is a gentle giant.

A younger and older Luna Moth caterpillar 

This post was prompted by the recent article I posted on the Walnut Tree - check it out here.  There are two species of moth that use the Walnut as a primary food source.  One is the aforementioned Luna Moth, and the second is the beautiful Regal Moth.  The Regal Moth caterpillar is a frightening looking creature.  It is, however, completely harmless.  These two amazing animals are ones to watch for if you have Walnut Trees and live in the eastern United States.  Remember Permaculture Principle One tells us to Observe and Interact.  Seeing these animals is part of the fun of observing.

Amazing colors on the Regal Moth

The terrifying, but harmless, Regal Moth caterpillar.

Close up of the Regal Moth

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