To see a specimen of the iconic Luna Moth ( Actias luna ) in the northern Blue Ridge, walk the ridgetop woods, with its black birch and red maple that this giant silkworm moth feeds on. There, the forest cover is light enough to spot the giant insect in the huckleberry leaves and sweet fern fronds. This habitat permits a look at an insect generally seen only at night; and even then, by chance.
In early July, the luna grows to adult size and rests in the ground cover for two hours before its wings, which reach 6 inches in width, become capable of flight. Pale green, the color of quaking aspen catkins, the moths take flight for one week and then die. They lie with their spring-green intact, drying in the fragrant ferns. Common moths, yet generally invisible to non-hikers, luna moths occur in every state east of the Mississippi.