The large, green swallow-tailed moth known as the Luna Moth (Actias luna) is familiar to many. Its short life of about a week begins in June when it emerges from its cocoon, mates, lays eggs and then dies. The larval stage of this giant silk moth is not as well known, but has just as striking an appearance as the adult moth. It is an unforgettable lime-green with tiny magenta spots along its length.
When threatened by a predator, Luna Moth caterpillars have several defensive behaviors, including emitting clicks as a warning and regurgitating the contents of their intestine, both of which have proved to be effective deterrents. Look for these caterpillars on their host trees which include birch, hickory and walnut. (Thanks to Susan and Dean Greenberg for photo op.)
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