Luna Moths & Woolly Bears

Richard L. Molay rlmolay at
Mon Sep 15 08:25:27 EDT 1997

Both points well-taken and for all I know, just as accurate as the
information I posted.  My reference for both creatures is THE AUDUBON
0-394-50763-0.  In my edition, the Luna Moth text is on page 769-770,
and the pertinent sentence reads: "This beautiful moth is only found in
North America.  It is now considered an endangered species because many
have been killed by pollutants and pesticides."   The same text
indicates the range as "Eastern half of the United States and southern
Canada."  As an armchair amateur, I make no claim to independent
expertise.  Go argue with Audubon.  (Borzoi; Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.;
Chanticleer Press; Random House.  All those names are mentioned on the
front plate.)

Regarding the Banded Wooly Bear Caterpillar Moth, my reference is the
same publication, and the text is on page 790.

As a serious book-lover and incurable collector of nonfiction reference
works, I have spent some considerable time looking for a current
comprehensive insect guide that contains good color photos of the
various life stages of insects, and have not had much success.  The
Audubon guides are about as good as I've been able to find.  If you can
recommend a good reference/field guide, many of us would appreciate it.

I have a similar interest in mushrooms and related fungi.  The
literature is quite a bit richer for fungi than for insects.  Starting
back around 1880, comprehensive books have been published with color
plates.  Nowadays there are many regional field guides for mushrooms.
It is fascinating that the official taxonomy for fungi undergoes
important changes from decade to decade.  Probably the same is true for
butterflies and moths.  If you are in possession of information more
current than mine, you won't get an argument from me.  Back when I was a
biology major in college, the study of insects was not what I would call
particularly rigorous, and I cannot recall any instructor bearing down
hard on taxonomy.

What is important here, in the instance of the Luna Moth, is just a
gentle nudge to the lay observer that such a truly icky creepy-crawler
is fated to turn into a gorgeous flying creature, and deserves to be
left alone, as opposed to being squashed for recreation or to save a few

- Richard
Friendly, Dependable Richard Molay
Free Lance Writer and Giver of Good Advice

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