Monday, November 18, 2013


On September 20, 2011, I decided to take a quick walk along the trail that leads to Radford High School and up to Main Street. I wanted to get more photos of mushrooms that I had seen there. As I searched among the the plants and brush, I spied a huge, neon green caterpillar crawling slowly over a log. I immediately began snapping!

I didn't know what kind of caterpillar I had found, but finding its identity was not difficult. After I put the images into my computer, I just searched for "big green caterpillar" online and saw that it was Luna (Actias luna).

Those images also let me see details of the critter's suction-cup feet :

                                                                 And also of its "face":

I knew that it would become a magnificently big Luna Moth - one of the largest moths that fly in North America. I had seen a couple of those, but never in Wildwood Park. I wished that I could find one. Summer turned to fall - I was disappointed that I did not find a Luna there. 2012 came and went - still no huge moth.

One Saturday morning this past August, I headed with my camera down the bike path to check the restroom
wall.There it was!

    I had waited for two long years. The delicately lovely creature took my breath away...

                                                        Even its antennae were huge!

Because these moths are nocturnal, they are not often seen during the day. As adults, they do not eat, in fact, they do not even have mouths. Therefore they live for only a week or so. They are members of the Saturniidae family. That name refers to the eyespots that resemble the planet Saturn and its rings. Those spots also look like the moon - Luna is the Latin word for "moon".

My friend Clyde Kessler came by while I was snapping photos. He decided that the moth needed to be moved from the wall to a more protected area. When he coaxed the creature onto a stick, it spread its wings and all four eyespots were visible. The long wait had ended with an awe-filled reward.

   I learn many lessons as I explore Wildwood. Perhaps one of the most valuable is patience.

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