If most nature photographers are honest, they will admit to at least a bit of jealousy of their colleagues who capture that “perfect” animal shot. Success is as much as being in the right time in the right place as anything else. Of course, some knowledge of your subject, preparation, and a lot of patience can make a difference.
I have to admit I have been envious of my friends who have photographed a luna moth (Actias luna). They are somewhat common, but elusive. I think they are particularly beautiful. It is rare to see one in the daylight, and they only live in moth form for a few days making them that much harder to find. Imagine my excitement when I found a newly emerged female on the irises next to my deck.
It is typical for newly eclosed females to dry their wings and remain in place emitting pheromones to attract a male. Well, my female must have done just that. The next morning she was still there – and she had garnered the attention of a male. The ability of these small animals to find a female using scent alone in the dark is amazing. The larger male antennae are especially adapted for this purpose. Apparently a male moth can detect a single molecule of female hormone from miles away.
Once this pair finished mating they rested awhile then flew away – the male to search for more females and the female to find a suitable place to deposit her eggs. In her case, this was likely on the sweetgum trees on my property. This would be her only mating. These moths have no digestive system and live off of the energy stored from caterpillar form. They die after a week or so, having ensured the next generation.
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