Metamorphosis of a Luna Moth

By Renn Tumlison, tumlison@hsu.edu and Kristen Benjamin, benjamk@hsu.edu

Luna Moth metamorphosis stage 1

 

 

 

 

Top and side views of the wings just beginning to develop.

 

 

 

 

Wings continue to elongate and the greenish coloration begins to appear.

Luna Moth stage 2
Luna Moth stage 3

 

 

 

 

Wings are a little longer and the eyespots on them are surrounded by green.

 

 

 

 

The wings are being folded back as they get even longer.

Luna Moth stage 4
Luna Moth side view

 

 

 

Finally, the tails develop and lengthen. From the time that the moth broke free of its cocoon until the whole process of rapid growth of the wings had been completed, about 30 minutes had passed. It takes a bit longer for the wings to harden well enough that the moth will be able to fly away.

 

 

 

 

The wings are flexed several times and are held out from the body when at rest. Now, males will seek out females so mating can occur.

male antennae

 

 

 

Males can be identified by the plumose (feathery) antennae. Males use these to detect the chemical attractants called pheromones that are produced by the females.

 

 

 

The antennae of the females are not as large, so the sexes are dimorphic (in other words, certain characters make it easy ro distinguish the sexes).

female antennae
 
 
 
 
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