A brush with royalty

Little Green Inn for Wayward Dogs

Natural history lesson of the day in Point Peter, Georgia.

(Editorial note: This is why no one invites me to parties. I’ll be inspired by an adult beverage and someone’s innocuous, casual remark about nature, and will start waxing poetic and scientific about some wild plant, tree, or critter… and all around me, eyes will glaze over and bodies fall to the floor, comatose.)

I found this female Royal Walnut Moth (Citheronia regalis) on my porch this morning. RWMs are members of the giant silkworm moth family, Saturniidae. The adults are nocturnal flyers; they have rudimentary, undeveloped mouthparts and do not feed at all. These beautiful, ephemeral insects live only a week or two as adults. Their sole adult-stage function is reproduction. Walnut moths can have the widest wingspan of any of the U.S. Saturniids—up to 6.1 inches across. This one, even slightly battered by the elements…

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