If you have seen a luna moth recently in Headwaters please let us know.
There is, in the pantheon of remarkable native animals, an insect whose beauty is so arresting that once seen it is never forgotten. This is the luna moth. Its gossamer wings are green with pink edging. It appears cut from the template of a master fashion designer.
Sadly, this lovely moth may no longer inhabit the Headwaters. Though formerly common, I am not aware of any recent sightings.
At this time of year luna moths emerge from tightly spun cocoons and dry their wings to prepare for flight. Time is of the essence. They have only a week or two to live. Finding a mate is their sole objective.
Luna moths are aptly named, for they use the moon to help guide their nocturnal travels. Pity then the moths that find themselves orbiting the false moons of our driveways and porches. Artificial lights capture them and hold them in thrall until, tattered and confused, they simply die.
The retreat of the luna is probably due to other factors as well. Parasitic flies introduced in an effort to control gypsy moths have almost certainly taken a toll.
Like the voracious cane toads introduced to Australia to control insect pests, these flies have amply demonstrated that they enjoy variety in their diet. They do feed on gypsy moth caterpillars, but find the caterpillars of our native moths equally appetizing.
A species of bird declining as dramatically as the luna moth would become the focus of concern — and rightly so. Research would be conducted, papers would be written, recovery strategies proposed.
The decline of the beautiful luna, though, seems to have evoked nary a whisper.
If you have seen a luna moth recently please please comment below. It would be wonderful to discover that some do still inhabit this area.