With its large, cherubic features and long trailing tails, the moon moths are one of the prettiest among moths. The Indian Moon Moth belong to the family Saturniidae, commonly known as saturniids, which are among the largest of the moths.

indian moon moth, actias selene

The Indian moon moths are nocturnal or crepuscular – i.e. they favor night or dim/twilight conditions. They are also silk producing moths, and hence tagged as sericigenous. A single cocoon of this moon moth can give continuous fiber of 300 to 350 meters. Silk moths are hence valued based on their voltinism, i.e. the number of broods they produce in an year. The Indian moon moths are trivoltine as they produce up to 3 generations of broods per year.

indian moon moth, actias selene

The Indian luna moths are particular in several ways, especially in the long-range attraction of males to female-produced pheromones. The female moths call the male moths through the secretion of pheromones, a chemical substance secreted to attract the opposite sex. The males are very sensitive to these pheromones that they can detect it from distances of 4 kms to even 11 kms far away! Large moths like these moon moths are probably aided by their flying capacity, and the fact that they are nocturnal helps in relatively non-turbulent night-time conditions.

indian moon moth, actias selene

After their life cycle as egg, larva and pupa, their prettiest stage of life as an adult moth is short for these moon moths. Their adult stage is restricted mostly to reproduction, and they have a lifespan of a week or less once they are out of the pupa. That is a week out of the 2 months which take to complete their life cycle. They probably finish all their feeding during its life stage as a larva/caterpillar. As an adult moth their mouth parts are immature and digestive tracts are absent. Effectively, they don’t have a mouth or digestive system to feed!

Species: Actias Selene, Common Name: Indian Moon Moth, Family: Saturniidae
Date: 23 Mar 2013, 4pm
Location: Namdapha National Park, Arunachal Pradesh, India.
Coordinates: 27.5N, 96.4E between Haldibari and Hornbill Camps
Camera: Nikon D80 + Tamron SP AF90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens

Reference:

  1. Deodekar GE, Kshirsagar K, Kamat I (1969) Chromosome Number in Actias Selene Hubner—a Wild Silkworm With Reelable Cocoons. Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding (The) 29 (1):126-130.
  2. Wall C, Perry J (1987) Range of action of moth sex‐attractant sources. Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 44 (1):5-14.
  3. Kakati L, Chutia B, Rawat G (2009) Diversity and ecology of wild sericigenous insects in Nagaland, India. Tropical Ecology 50 (1):137-146.

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