Friday, February 6, 2009

Moths and the Full Hunger Moon

For many Native Americans the full moon in February is called the Hunger Moon. The month can be a very snowy with bitter cold temperatures; a difficult month to search for food (sound familiar in 2009?). This year the Full Hunger Moon will be February 9th, Monday.
While a lot of attention the second month of the year goes to the groundhog (allegedly, the animal saw his shadow this year, which spooked the critter back into his den), there are some even more fascinating insights and magic about moths and the moon. Well, there are no moths around during the dead of winter, but there is moonlight and a lack of food sources.
This post actually began last summer when a Luna moth flew in my window one day last summer (the photo) and landed under the light on the kitchen table.
Recently, I came across an article about moths and moonlight and light bulbs; there is still much to be discovered about all nocturnal moths, like the Luna.
What would a summer evening be without moths? They flutter around our campfires and beat their powdery wings against our lampshades. They congregate by streetlights and frequent torch-lit garden parties. But what is it about the lamp on your porch that moths find so irresistible? Is it the warmth? The pleasing glow? Why are moths attracted to light?

(NOTE: If the link doesn't work, click on Title)
It seems moths really think our light bulbs are moonlight, according to the research theory. Nocturnal moths, like the Luna, use the moonlight as part of an ancient navigational system. They get confused by artificial light. And one more quick note about the adult Luna moth, they don't eat (sounds like February), because they don't have mouths.
They do eat when they are caterpillars. Important food sources are the leaves of the American Beech, Red Maple, hickories, White Oak, Black Cherry, willows, Sumac and walnut trees.
Luna moths are fairly rare and in some areas, considered endangered. The one that landed on my table was the first I had ever seen. They are big with a wing span between four and five inches. They are colorful with yellow spots on brilliant, lime-green wings. The Luna only lives for about a week and emerges in late spring and early summer.
The Full Hunger Moon this year will see a lot of deep snow and a lot of hunger (people and wildlife) but it is a reminder about what comes next