Most moths are harmless. But caterpillars, not so much. Besides, the Luna moths are not rare but difficult to spot. These nocturnal insects live for about 7 to 10 days and have lime-green wings with white bodies. During their few days living in forested ares, they go through their entire life cycle (from larvae to caterpillars to adult moths).
Luna moths do not eat, so they have a short life span. On the contrary, Luna caterpillars eat extensively. They are usually hungry and eat paper birch, walnut, sweet gum, and hickory leaves. An adult Luna moth can have up to a 3 – 4.5-inch wingspan.
Nonetheless, you should know if Luna moths are poisonous during their different stages of development. This article looks at Luna moths & caterpillars and how poisonous they might be to you or your pets.
Are Luna Moths Poisonous?
No. Luna moths are not poisonous. However, many people find them cute because of their bright colors and hairy bodies. Most poisonous moths and other brightly colored moth species can be toxic or spread venom from their spiny hairs.
Some poisonous moths might cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and red bump patches on the skin.
Luna moths are harmless. Their hairs are not spiny and do not have any poison. Equally, the Luna moth’s bright colors are for camouflage, allowing them to hide along the leaves away from potential predators.
But always ensure to wash your hands thoroughly if you accidentally touch a Luna moth. Washing your hands with soap and sufficient water will prevent the transfer of bacteria from the moth’s skin to your hands.
Remember to gently hold Luna moths or other non-poisonous moths to avoid squishing them. But you should avoid touching Luna moths unnecessarily because touching them can cause allergic reactions. Luna moth scales usually stick to clothes and oily surfaces; hence, you should always be careful when outside.
Are Luna Caterpillars Poisonous?
Luna moths and Luna caterpillars are not poisonous to humans or pets. However, many believe that Luna caterpillars are toxic because of their similarity with other caterpillar species. Most caterpillars have poisonous hairs causing irritation and redness on the skin upon contact. Luckily, Luna caterpillars do not cause any reactions to the skin.
The Luna caterpillar’s hairs do not affect the skin, and the scales do not stick to your skin. The Luna caterpillar’s bright color helps it camouflage on the leaves away from predators like bats, parasitic flies, and owls.
Other caterpillar species, however, use their normal defensive mechanisms when held or picked up. They usually bite and deliver a painful sting whenever they feel threatened. Also, they will bite you painfully if you bring their mouths close to your skin. However, the bite is not poisonous but still painful. But you should not feel any irritation on the skin after a while.
Even so, you must always be careful around small creatures, including several species of caterpillars. Remember that a caterpillar’s bite plus bacteria its bacteria can be dangerous to your health. Again, you must thoroughly wash your hands if you accidentally touch a Luna caterpillar.
Are Luna Moths Dangerous?
No. Since Luna moths cannot bite and do not release toxic powders from their wings, they are not dangerous. You can hold them (however, it is not advisable because you might be allergic to the scales, causing skin reactions).
While it is safe to touch a Luna moth, you should still avoid it because they have scales on their wings that fall off when touched. Furthermore, losing a layer of scale means becoming less aerodynamic, affecting their flight and exposing them to danger. You can still hold Luna moths without a doubt if you are not allergic.
On the contrary, Luna moths might be harmful to a few plants and animals. These moths are not invasive and will never affect the ecosystem or damage the economic strain and human health cycles.
Do Luna Moths Bite?
No. Luna moths do not bite. These harmless insects do not have mouths or a digestive system (no wonder they do not eat). Luna caterpillars, on the contrary, have mouths and eat foliage extensively. Later, a Luna caterpillar becomes atrophied and loses its teeth as it matures into a moth.
At the caterpillar stage, they will eat enough and leave their cocoon behind, which later turns into a moth to survive without food for the next 7 to 10 days.
Other moth species, conversely, will bite because they descend from the genus Calyptra, also known as vampire moths. These species can bite and leave a painful feeling on human skin.
Where are Luna Moths Found?
You already know that spotting a Luna moth can be challenging. However, they are common in North American forested regions and deciduous woodlands. You can also spot Luna moths east of Florida, South Carolina, and Saskatchewan through central Quebec to Nova Scotia in Canada, with a few in Western Europe.
Luna moths are usually identifiable from late March to early June.
Some moths appear in other regions around September. But Luna moths prefer to stay in forested regions and woodlands because the Luna caterpillar feeds on tree foliage.
Other regions you should spot Luna moths include west Texas, the Ohio River Valley, southeastern Canada, North Dakota, and Maine. However, you can easily spot the moths at night than daytime. Also, Luna moths camouflage on tree leaves to hide from predators.
In a year, Luna moths produce approximately three generations (particularly if the climate is warm), and each moth lives for a week or a maximum of 10 days. You can spot most seasonal creatures in forest covers at night whenever they are attracted to the colorful UV rays from artificial lights.
Female Luna moths produce approximately 200 to 400 eggs which incubate for a week or 13 days before hatching into larvae molt.
Are Luna Moths Poisonous to Dogs?
Luna moths are not dangerous to pets. They are harmless to dogs because these moth species do not release toxins that can harm a dog’s skin. However, there might still be a few possibilities that your dog could be allergic to Luna moths. Therefore, you should check if your dog accidentally touches a Luna moth.
Check for redness in the skin, irritation, or swelling. It is also advisable to consult your vet if you notice rashes on your dog’s skin.
You should note that dogs might find Luna moths tasty. Sometimes, they will be attracted to flying insects like the common house fly. Dogs like to play or eat flies for fun.
However, Luna moths normally produce a bitter fluid as a defense mechanism whenever they feel threatened. But this liquid is not poisonous to dogs if accidentally swallowed. The fluid is disgusting, and your dog might throw up immediately after tasting it. The fluid also smells foul, and your dog might feel irritated.
The smell and taste secreted by Luna moths repel most predators in the wild.
Are Luna Moths Attracted to Light?
Yes. Luna moths are attracted to light. However, it is difficult to spot them during the day. You can spot them near street lights, porch lights, and other well-lit areas. The process by which insects are drawn to ultraviolent artificial lights is known as positive phototaxis.
Lighting sources with UV and electromagnetic spectra have many moths hovering near them.
Remember that Luna moths are nocturnal animals, also known as the American Moon Moth. They are named after the Roman moon goddess, Luna, because they are usually attracted by the moon’s light or spotted during this time. You might, however, see them with the evolution of artificial lighting. Luna moths also fly in groups under light sources.
Are Luna Moths Pollinators?
No. Luna moths are not pollinators. Mature Luna moths do not have mouths. So, they cannot suck flower nectar or even pollinate them. But other moths are pollinators. Luna caterpillars also consume leaves but will not pollinate flowers. They eat enough to store fats for the adult moth to survive.
An adult Luna moth has one goal. To find a suitable mate and reproduce. Luna moths have distinctive colors that make them attractive. Unfortunately, they will die after a week, and the cycle continues.
The larvae are light green caterpillars with a distinct yellow line and red spots running down its side. An adult Luna moth assumes a thick body with green wings with a border of dark forewings. Also, the wings have four eyespot patterns to help them deter and confuse predators.
You should know how to identify a Luna moth with its striking look. These nocturnal insects have broad wings, tapering tails, and a lime-green appearance.
Luna moths are not dangerous to humans and pets, even with their sticky hairs. This guide has looked at everything concerning Luna moths and caterpillars.