Next week is National Moth Week (July 18-26th) celebrating the beauty, life cycles, and habitats of moths. In observation of this event, we are recognizing one of the most beautiful and ethereal moths, the Luna Moth. Many folks have never seen this lovely creature and wonder if a Luna Moth truly glows in the dark, like summer fireflies.
What is a Luna Moth?
The Luna Moth is also known as the wild silk moth. One of the largest moths in North America, its wingspan can measure up to 4 ½ inches. Its softly glowing luminous wings are a fluorescent pistachio color, making a nighttime encounter with it unforgettable. The Luna Moth has hind wings that look like two long sweeping tails. The reflective scales on its wings offer a shimmery, luminous glow when light shines upon it.
The Luna Moth inhabits a wide region of eastern North America, from northern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
A Short but Beautiful Life
Young Luna caterpillars love to munch on hickory, walnut, sumac, willow and birch leaves but prefer persimmon. Once fully developed and secure in its cocoon, they will not feed again. When this magical creature finally matures and emerges as a luminous winged moth, it only lives long enough to mate and lay eggs, about a one week phase in their short adult lives. Their sole purpose is to reproduce more exquisite Luna moths.
A Scary Moth?
Some people are afraid of moths in general. It is rumored that the Lunesta brand sleeping pill had to tone down the size of the Luna Moth in their commercials. Some consumers responded they were frightened by the thought of a giant moth visiting them while they were sleeping.
Of course the Japanese fictional creature Mothra only reinforced the fear of giant moths. Developed in the early 60’s, it was inspired by real giant silk moths and meant to be a rival of the popular screen monsters of that time. With a wingspan of over 800 feet, Mothra’s special powers included being able to emit poisonous yellow dust and deathly rays from her antennae. These abilities aided Mothra in her epic battles against the fearsome Godzilla.
Glowing Luna Moths
Although shimmering and reflective in the moonlight, a Luna Moth does not really glow in the dark like a firefly. Fireflies glow because they produce a fluorescent substance known as luminol, useful for attracting mates in otherwise complete darkness. Luna Moths earned the name Luna primarily because of their pale moon-like color. Their special wings momentarily reflect a spot of light when an external light shines on them. They do not emit an internal glowing light like the firefly.
This week we celebrate the short majesty of the beautiful Luna Moth. If you also love the look of shimmering materials that glow all night, then try our Lunabrite glow products. Available in round glowing rope trim, flat illuminating ribbon and larger sized sheets, there are many options for imaginative projects. Like the Luna Moth, it’s fun to enjoy a dazzling glow on dark summer nights.