A rare beauty doesn’t last long

The temperature today was about -20F, that is about 20F cooler than the past couple days with a clear sky. So I decided to kayak on T Howard Duckett Watershed, also known as Rocky Gorge separating Montgomery and Howard Counties in Maryland. Today I started at the Brown Bridge Road crossing and paddled downstream for a couple of miles and back. The day was beautiful with a breeze that varied from dead calm to a good stiff breeze, winds like this are probably generated by thermal activity but the air was dry resulting in “Blue Thermals”, no small cumulus clouds anywhere.

Three Great Blue Herons flew along the shore staying well away. And a couple large turtles basked on logs along the shore. Then I came across a Luna Moth floating on the water, looking like it wanted to become air-born again, so I slid my paddle under it, and let it rest on my boat to dry itself. About 5 minutes later it had dried enough to climb to a high spot on the deck, flap it’s wings and fly away. But it didn’t get far, it climbed to about 15′ then dived into the water again, floated for a couple of seconds, then dived under the surface. By the time I got to the ‘crash site’ it’s wings had broken into small fragments and it was struggling to stay underwater. According to Wikipedia

Actias luna in Florida.

Adults eclose, or emerge from their cocoons in the morning. Their wings are very small when they first emerge and they must enlarge them by pumping bodily fluids through them. During this time, their wings will be soft and they must climb somewhere safe to wait for their wings to harden before they can fly away. This process takes about 2 hours to complete. The Luna Moth has a wingspan of 8–11.5 cm (3.1–4.5 in)[3] with long, tapering hindwings, which have eyespots on them in order to confuse potential predators. Although rarely seen due to their very brief (1 week) adult lives, Luna Moths are considered common. As with all Saturniidae, the adults do not eat or have mouths.[3] They emerge as adults solely to mate, and as such, only live approximately one week. They are more commonly seen at night.

I’ve only seen about half a dozen Luna Moths before, with a life of only about a week they are a rare sighting. If you have the privilege of seeing one of these beauties of nature, stop and admire it for it won’t be around much longer.

Looking at the map you will see wide water to the north of the launch ramp, during droughts that is just a mudflat. I’ve seen times when grasses grow waist high there. Thankfully spring rains have filled this and the upstream Tridelphia Lake.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
This entry was posted in Kayak, nature, Outdoors, sea kayak, Sea kayaking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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