Wednesday, September 2, 2009
If you like pretty, you will love Argema mimosae, the African Luna, or Moon Moth.
Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House recently received a shipment of them and the first have started emerging. Yellow/green in color, with spectacular long tails and eyespots, these nocturnal moths often rest with their wings open and tails crossed.
Members of the Saturniidae family, Argema mimosae are also known as the giant silk moths. True to their name, silkmoths spin firm, dense silken cocoons. They are not the same as the cultivated silk moth. The largest Lepidoptera belong to this family, which includes the Lunas, Atlas moths, Royal moths and Washington State’s own Polyphemus moth.
Argema mimosae is native to South-Central Africa and eats the foliage of Sclerocarya caffra, an edible fruit related to mangos. They have been successfully reared in captivity on several plants from the same family (Anacardiaceae), including poison ivy! So while pretty, they are pretty tough, too.
Adult Saturniid moths have reduced or no mouthparts and live very short lives. This means that you should come see them these beautiful moths soon!