MARVELOUS MOTHS! What a treat to discover this beautiful Luna Moth resting near the shower stalls. There, the lights are left on all night, and these moths are attracted by the light, not to mention other moths! This is the time of year when these insects emerge as adults from their over wintering pupa. They take flight and emit a scent called pheromone which signals the opposite sex to come hither. It is my understanding that the female sends out that chemical signal and the male uses his feathery antennae to find its mate. Once the mating occurs, the female lays eggs on a suitable plant such as Birch, and then dies. Neither the male or female lives very long, and they don't even eat while flying and looking for a mate.
The eggs will eventually hatch, and green caterpillars will eat and grow through most of the summer. Eventually, those caterpillars will spin a cocoon, usually folding themselves inside a leafy house. They drop down and lie hidden among fallen leaves until next June when they will (hopefully) emerge as adult flying beauties to complete the cycle. If you have a light left on all night, it is a good place to look for night flying moths. You may be as lucky as we were to find a Luna...named after the moon which may light its way.
We took advantage of the extremely low tides that have accompanied the new moon to explore the beaches in early morning. Surf clams demonstrated their prowess at jumping (yes, they use their muscular foot to jump from sea stars!) and young lobsters were hiding under rocks. On another beach hunt, we found moon snails and huge hermit crabs dragging around large snail houses. All of these animals were released after careful handling and observation. We were even successful in digging out several Razor Clams and netting tiny Sand Shrimp and Lumpfish. The latter have a suction cut-like device on their bellies which they use for attaching to seaweed. One trick we learned was seeking creatures hiding in the Eel Grass.
It is always comforting to reconnect
with these creatures after a long winter. Some go out to sea,
only to return to the shoreline to mate and molt. Others, like
the hardy Periwinkles, survive on the rocks despite sub-freezing
6/28/06 Loony Ronnie