“The Lunar Moth is attracted to the moon as a source of light”, Bronwyn Varty-Laburn often shares with me how she believes that the Lunar moth – or African Moon moth – signifies rebirth and new beginnings and returning to the light within. These incredible creatures seek light in the darkness and are the ultimate teachers of transformation.
The Lunar Moth is arguably one of the most beautiful things that we see at Londolozi. With their large emerald green wings, infused with yellow and a splash of red eyespots, they are unmistakeable if you are lucky enough to have one cross your path!
With large green wings,
she is graceful as she flies.
She carries marks upon her back,
like two feral eyes.
Antennas are like tiny ferns,
feathery and pale.
Her tail is like a swallow,
yet delicate and frail.
Watch her on a summer night,
while crickets sing a tune.
She flutters through the darkness,
by the light of the moon.
Enjoy her while you can,
you may only get a peek.
For sadly life is short for her,
she only lives a week.
They are rarely seen due to their short adult lives (when they are in the form of a moth). Living for only a few days…After three years of being at Londolozi knowing that this magical moth was out there, I eventually saw one on the path to camp on my way to my early morning game drive.
I could not believe it. Unfortunately, it must have been its last night as all that remained were its wings.
I had always wanted to see one; I have a Lunar Moth that I painted on my favourite coffee mug; friends will often give me gifts with its beautiful image on it. I picked up the wings and examined them gently. I was amazed at how strong they were and how detailed the eyespots were. This is such a clever nature invention; the theory is that the eyespots are to deter predators, making them believe they have been spotted and therefore can’t ambush the moth, allowing it to move away to safety…
It may seem strange that a moth is so green compared to the common brown/white species, but the colour and shape of the wings are perfectly adapted to mimic a leaf, and the trailing ends of its lower wings (hind wings) resemble a dried out leaf stem, to act as camouflage when they are clinging onto the leaves of a tree in the day time.
Their large wings (around 10-12 centimetres or 3.9-4.7 inches) are so beautiful and mean so much to me that I decided to frame them instead of let them get trampled on.
The local people in the Lowveld regions use the silver cocoons of the Lunar Moth to make ankle shakers used in traditional dances and blessings.
It’s believed that if you crush up the roots of a Weeping Wattle tree and the Lunar Moth cocoon together (once the moth has transformed and left it) and you bathe in water infused with the mixture it, it will protect you from any evil and get rid of any curses you may be under.
I love to look at nature from old myths and ledges… Whether you believe it has some spiritual significance or not. Maybe it’s just that this remarkable moth undergoes such a significant transformation from a hairy caterpillar to a magnificent detailed winged moth that flutters towards the light of the moon, and maybe we are just seeking a lesson from nature that transformation can fundamentally change your identify but your core reason for being is to try and find the light…For me the lesson was to just to stop, notice and appreciate the beauty of finally seeing a Lunar Moth.