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A friend posted a picture on Facebook one morning of a huge green moth on a pillar of her patio. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it. It didn’t take long to locate it on Google. It was a Luna Moth, one of the largest in North America. Although, not rare, they are rarely seen.
In Canada they are found from Saskatchewan east and in the United States, east of the Great plains from Florida to Maine. In the northern part of their range they will produce one generation per year while in the southern areas there will be 2-3 generations.
They were first identified and written about in 1700 by James Petiver, the first saturniid moth in North America to be formally identified. Their name refers to their nocturnal nature and the eye spot on the wings resembling a crescent moon.
They have lime green wings and a white body. The adult wingspan is usually about 4.5” (11.4cm) but can expand to as much as 7” (17.8cm). The adult Luna moth will appear around late May/early in the northern areas, around April in the southern areas. Their lifespan is 7-10 days.
With such a short lifespan, they don’t waste time on getting the mating ritual underway. The females emit a strong pheromone which males can pick up over a kilometre away. Once discovered the male (or males) will make a beeline to the waiting female. The first to arrive will be the one and only mate.
She will lay about 200 eggs in small batches on the underside of leaves of bushes and then will die. The eggs will hatch about 10 days later. They will molt about 5 times over the next 3-4 weeks as the caterpillar grows to a length of about 2.5” (6.4cm). The fat it develops during the caterpillar stage will nourish the adult when it emerges. The adult doesn’t eat.
The caterpillar’s green colour helps to camouflage it and protects itself from predators through a clicking sound with its mandibles and regurgitating a distasteful fluid. Predators include: hornets, bats, ground beetles, owls, wasps and rodents.
Once the caterpillar has reached full size it will start to spin itself into a silk cocoon wrapped inside a leaf. It will remain in the cocoon until the adult is ready to emerge by cutting its way out with tiny serrated spurs on it’s wings. The adult will emerge with its wings folded up against it and over the first few hours it will rest and the wings will start to spread out. And the cycle of transformation begins again.
With their nocturnal nature leaving the Luna moth rarely seen there is an aura of mystery around them. They have an undeniable beauty about them. It’s not often you look at a moth and see something as amazing as a Luna moth is.
As a spirit animal, their short lifespan teaches us about transformation and constant change throughout and to make the most of it. To not fear change as change is inevitable and necessary.
A Luna moth caught inside away from the light will show a determined drive to get to the light, no matter how vulnerable it makes them to a predator. You can’t usually achieve anything in life without allowing some vulnerability.
Many believe seeing a Luna moth is a symbol of pending luck within the near future.
If you experience seeing a Luna moth in your dreams, the circumstances carry a message:
If you see or happen upon one, it signals you are expecting some good fortune in the coming weeks or months.
if one lands on or near you, that’s a warning of potential danger. It may be a warning of something in your near future where you may find being cautious will bring you fresh meaning to a life situation.
If you are releasing a Luna moth during a dream it’s a signal a willingness for you to let go of a painful past, ready to begin again with a more positive mindset.
I never did ask my friend if she had some good fortune after the visit from the Luna moth. I did ask her for permission to use the image, which she granted. You’ll be seeing it again in the near future. Stay tuned.
Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms.
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