LEPIDOPTERA LIFE CYCLES: The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, is one of the most widespread butterflies in the United States. It belongs to the Nymphalidae family and is known for its bright red forewing bands contrasted by the black and white that covers the remainder of its wings. They are fast, erratic flyers and are often confused with painted ladies, who are the same size and fly the same way. Oftentimes it is not until one actually lands that a positive identification can be made.

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LEPIDOPTERA LIFE CYCLES: The Luna Moth (Actias luna)

The Luna Moth (Actias luna) is one of the most spectacular of the giant Saturniid moths from the United States. With its green colors and long delicate tails, it is breathtaking to see live and in person, especially for the first time! According to the amazing book “The Wild Silk Moths of North America: A Natural History of the Saturniidae of the United States and Canada” by Paul M. Tuskes, James P. Tuttle and Michael M. Collins, this species can be found throughout most of the eastern part of North America. There are two seasonal forms, with those hatching in the spring being a more intense green in color whereas those hatching in the summer tend to be more yellowish. The spring forms also have a more vibrant purple outer wing margin. I have found them very easy to rear on both walnut and sweetgum, with the only real issues being overcrowding which tends to attract yellow jackets and birds, who love to eat the caterpillars, especially when using net bags on the branches of trees.

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