Throughout my life, I have had the great pleasure of seeing, observing, photographing, and even collecting several Luna Moths. Luna Moths, or Actias luna, are giant silkworm moths that belong to the family, Saturniidae. Their wingspan is generally about 4.5″ in length, so they are very large, appearing as kites in flight.
These moths are so amazing and beautiful…in their coloring and wing structure. With their coloring reminiscent of evening moonlight – the aura of light surrounding the moon – they get their name, Luna, which means “moon.” And, the tails on the hind wings of these fabulous delights are very long, flowing, and beautiful, as well!
In the picture above that I photographed in the summer of 2010, my mom located this Luna Moth, roosting in a tree in the backyard. She cut the branch of the tree – with the Luna Moth still resting on it – and brought it in the house for all to enjoy. We observed and enjoyed it’s awesome beauty, and then, released it that night when it became active, after flying about inside the enclosed porch.
The saddleback caterpillar, Sibine stimulea, as seen in my photos herein, is a formidable foe to birds and other predators. This caterpillar is found in eastern North America, and belongs to the family of slug caterpillars.
With it’s green and brown coloration, the saddleback caterpillar blends in with tree bark and foliage, camouflaging itself. A circular brown spot on it’s back gives it the name, “saddleback.” Circular white-colored spots may serve to scare away possible attackers.
Arguably, the saddleback caterpillar’s greatest assets are it’s horns on which protrude urticating hairs. These hairs are more akin to needle-like spikes that secrete poison that can cause irritation and pain.
I have never touched a saddleback caterpillar, and I don’t suggest for anyone to do so. These caterpillars are really beautiful and interesting to view, though I wouldn’t want one to mistake me for a predator, stinging me with poisonous venom. They are better to leave alone, simply admiring their uniqueness and natural beauty!
Above, please enjoy viewing a photo of the female moth of this species!
Bugguide. http://bugguide.net/node/view/507. May 17, 2012.