About Indian Moon Moths

Written by melissa voelker
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About Indian Moon Moths
(Wikimedia Commons, Sandilya Theuerkauf)

With its striking colouring and easy breedability, the Indian Moon Moth is a species that lepodopterologists (those that study butterflies and moths) enjoy finding in the wild and breeding in captivity.

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The Facts

Also sometimes known as the Indian Luna Moth, the Indian Moon Moth, or Actias selene, is a member of the Saturniidae family. This family includes some of the largest species of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) in the world. The Actias genus is made up of 10 different moths, including the Actias luna (Luna Moth) and the Actias maenus (Malaysian Moon Moth.)

Geography

Indian Moon Moths are found in areas stretching from India all the way to Japan. They have been found in Nepal, Ceylon, Borneo and other western Asian islands. Some subspecies life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China and Sri Lanka.

Identification

With a wingspan of up to 5 inches, the Indian Moon Moth has with pale-green, almost translucent wings that curve down into a swallow tail. The wings have small "eye spots" and usually a pink or purple edge. The body is fat and white, while the legs are often dark pink. Though they are very similar in appearance to Luna Moths, they are normally larger.

Time Frame

The life cycle of the Indian Moon Moth consists of four different stages: egg, larva, pupa/chrysalis and adult (or imago). It begins with the egg, which once laid will incubate for almost 2 weeks. When it hatches, a red-and-black larva (or caterpillar) will emerge. Caterpillars eat voraciously from trees like sweetgum, cherry, willow and hawthorn. This feeding is important, as once they become adults they will no longer have functional mouths and must rely on the energy stored up during the larva stage. During the larva stage, they will also go through developmental periods called "instars." This is the period between moulting, when the caterpillar is growing and changing colour and size. The second instar for Indian Moon Moth caterpillars has them appearing more red than black, and by the third they should be looking very green. Once an Indian Moon Moth caterpillar has completed the instar developmental phases, it will spin a brown, oval cocoon for the pupa stage. After this it will emerge as an adult moth. Its lifespan once it has reached adulthood can last from a few days to a few weeks.

Features

Indian Moon Moths are quite popular among amateur entomologists and lepodopterologists. Their eggs and cocoons are readily available through commercial outlets, and they are relatively easy to breed in captivity.

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