moths of maryland

What kind of Moths are in Maryland?

How large do moths get?

In Maryland, upon hearing the word “moth,” you may instantly think of images of brown insects hovering outside your screen door during summer nights. However, there’s so much more about these nocturnal insects. The Maryland moth has extremely diverse colors, sizes, and shapes, and they also provide a broad spectrum of ecological advantages. The biggest are the Atlas moths or Saturniidae. They have wingspans as big as 12 inches.

What is the Maryland state insect?

The identification of the beautiful Baltimore checkerspot butterfly or Euphydryas phaeton as the official arthropod emblem in Maryland was in 1973. Generally speaking, the Baltimore Checkerspot is a vibrant colored butterfly that are now experiencing dramatic degeneration. Conservation procedures were practiced in Maryland since it is the place where this species has become exceptionally rare.

Taking a photo of this Maryland state symbol might be hard to come by, but its distinct features can help in its identification. When the Baltimore butterfly opens its wings, it displays a black base with two large banded borders. The inner corners display checkers in white while the outer corners have yellowish-orange hue. There are also orange spots found along the base. On the other hand, when the wings are closed, the same view is displayed, however, the patterns are more vibrant and brighter. These species resides in wet spongy habitats. Positive identification of the Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillar is easier as it makes silk “nests” on ash, plantain, false foxglove, and turtlehead.

What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

If you want to take a photo of a moth in Maryland, it is Though both have similarities and they are on the same insect category, several differences will tell them apart from each other, including the following:

  • Butterflies have lengthy and thin antenna while moths have short and feathery antennas.
  • Butterflies close their wings when they rest while moths open theirs when they are resting.
  • Butterflies mostly collect their food during the day but moths generally come out at night. Photo opportunities are diminished by their night time activities.
  • A moth caterpillar usually creates a silky cocoon while a butterfly caterpillar typically creates shiny chrysalis.
  • The Atlas moth is the biggest in the world, and it can grow as much as 12 inches wide! That’s one giant moth. 

Moths are harder to see in the wilds of Maryland. It may be necessary to take a look at images to understand how it hides in plain site. A moth usually has colors which camouflage the insect and makes it blend in the background. A photo of a moth would show it hiding on a tree trunk.

Where are luna moths endangered?

If you ever encountered a Luna moth, then you are one lucky person. This huge, pretty insect is a member of the Saturniidae family. Sometimes, it is termed as the American moon moth or the giant silkworm moth. It was one of the most common species of moth in Maryland before but now, it is deemed as endangered in certain areas, though it is not yet on the list of endangered species.

The Luna moth is a native of Maryland and is one of the biggest in North America. Its wingspan measures an impressive 4.5 inches. Since they are nocturnal insects and there’s only a few of them left, it is extremely rare to see this lovely moth in any county in Maryland. The Luna moth was named after the moon because of its nocturnal trait and crescent-shaped detail in the eyespot of its wings. It can be recognized by these characteristics:

  • a white body, long, pinkish legs, and huge translucent and lime green wings. Its hind wings have long tails and eyespots that are used to trick predators.
  • the antennae of the males are bigger and bushier compared to females.
  • It is mostly found in the forested property of the northern hemisphere. In the US, it can be found in almost every eastern State, from Florida to Maryland and Maine in the north, and up to Texas in the west. In southern Canada, it can be seen from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia.
  • The caterpillar eat plant leaves, including trees from Maryland like walnut, hickory, birch, sweet-gum, willow, persimmon, oak, red maple, smooth sumac trees, American beech, cherry, and American chestnut.

The Luna moth, with its captivating beauty, is not deemed as a pest in Maryland, thus control efforts are unnecessary. The reason why these species are endangered is because of the excessive use of pesticides, pollution, and loss of habitat. Even if the Luna moth larvae are huge caterpillars that eat leaves of wide-variety of trees and shrubs, their populations in Maryland don’t expand in large quantities to cause massive destruction or damage.

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