Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Moth in the Basement

I came across this huge and spectacular moth in the parking lot of the basement in which I have my clinic. I didn't know what it was except that - from the lobed wings, the enormous size and the furry antennae - it was a male of one of the Saturniidae. A little research online told me what it was: a Luna Moth, Actias luna.

Like most Saturniidae - including the world's largest lepidopteran, the Atlas Moth, which I have also seen - the Luna Moth doesn't have functional mouth parts as an adult. It eats all it's ever going to eat as a caterpillar. Once hatched, its only purpose in life is to locate a member of the opposite sex - hence the furry antennae, all the better to gather your scent molecules with, my dear - mate, and (in the case of the females) lay eggs before the stored energy gives out and it starves to death, a process which takes about seven days. In other words, the adult is just a breeder, and once it finishes passing on its genes, it's entirely disposable as far as said genes are concerned.

Evolution can be a cruel thing.

Incidentally, as a kid, I was phobic about large insects. Today, I tend to go to the opposite extreme, especially where beetles are concerned. I love beetles.

So, anyway, here's a stick insect, another animal I love, this one from my garden:

This one was about twenty centimetres long. I've seen longer, and handled them too.


  1. sweet moth :) love the stick insect too
    once when i was in Texas i found a huge tarantula out hiking, handled it for while, was really pretty. then he started doing some weird activity on my arm and freaked me out, so let him/her go on its way.

  2. What a beautiful creature. Your photos are great as well, showing the gossamer qualities of its wings. Fascinating about the mouth parts. I found one once as a kid in the woods. It was on the ground, struggling. I took it home and put it in a box with leaves to eat. (No google back then.) Of course it died (it was dying anyway) and I felt bad I hadn't been able to save it.


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