While you are waiting for your Black Hammock airboat tour, you may see a gigantic green moth hanging around by the Gift Shop display window. This beautiful insect is known as the Luna Moth. This species of moth is one of the largest moths in North America! It has a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches. The pale green wings have four eye spots that’s purpose is to confuse potential predators. If attacked, the moth will flutter its wings wildly. Male and female adults look similar, but the males have more heavily feathered antennae. Before it’s transformation to a giant green moth, the Luna looks like a green caterpillar with a yellow stripe on each side, hair, and spiny tubercles.
This species can only be found in North America and prefer deciduous woods; the caterpillars feed on the leaves of deciduous species such as hickory, sumacs, birch, alder, and walnut. Adult luna moths do not eat, or have mouths! Their lifespan after transportation from a caterpillar to a month is only approximately one week, and their sole purpose during this time is to mate. Females send out their love call by releasing pheromones. The males are able to find the females by following their scent trail. Since Luna Moths are nocturnal, mating generally occurs at night. If the pair remains undisturbed, they may remain coupled until the following night. Female Luna Moths produce between 100 and 300 eggs, and lay them 4-7 at a time on the undersides of leaves over several nights.
We were lucky enough to receive a visit from these fantastic creatures recently. It appeared to be a male and many guests were thrilled to see him after returning from their airboat ride. Here are a few photos of the visiting Luna Moth outside of the Black Hammock Gift Shop. It is nice to know that while Black Hammock Airboat Rides take place on the most alligator populated lake in the entire state; there are many other wonders to experience back on shore as well!