Catkins–“a spicate inflorescence (as of the willow, birch, or oak) bearing scaly bracts and unisexual usually apetalous flowers”. In other words, those fuzzy stringy things that fall off of the trees in the spring. Our property is full of hickory and walnut trees that drop these nuisances for several weeks in May and June. These usually innocuous flowers are the bane of our existence this time of year because we have two Velcro dogs that bring them into the house by the bushel.
This year the catkins are particularly prolific. Our Dwarf Alberta Spruce trees were draped in them in a way that it reminded me of tinsel tossed onto a Christmas tree, (reminiscent of the way my Grandfather retaliated when pressed into helping decorate the holiday tree).
As we were driving down to the barn Sunday morning, I caught a glimpse of a pale lime green shape on the middle of the tree and I said to my husband, “Now we’ve got a Christmas ornament on our tinsel tree. Let’s go back and have a look”. There was a beautiful Luna Moth with wings spread, sitting right in the middle of the tree. But on closer inspection, we discovered that our “ornament” was bearing a gift. There were actually two Luna Moths, a male and a female, entangled in a passionate embrace.
According to Wikipedia, “Adult luna moths live only to reproduce. Because their lifespan is a mere week, luna moths mate and lay their eggs shortly after emerging from their cocoons. The females release pheromones to attract mates. Pheromones are specific chemical messengers that affect the behavior or development of other individuals of the same species; enables males and females to communicate during courtship and mating. Males trace these pheromones to find unmated females. The female will usually mate with the first male that reaches her. Once a male luna moth has found a female, they mate, remaining in that position until the next evening if left undisturbed. Luna moths perform internal fertilization, and begin mating a few hours after midnight.”
It is always a rare and special moment to just catch a glimpse of the beautiful Luna moth. But how many people can say they witnessed Lepidoptera sex. Just a couple of weeks ago we caught a pair of snapping turtles doing the Turtle Tango down on our pond. Ain’t love grand?