The Indian Moon Moth

On 23rd April 2016 I traveled to the newly opened Sherpa Eco Resort at Village Dyarag near Solan (Himachal Pradesh) to attend a family function. The resort is located in the middle of dense Oak & Deodar forest which turns out to be a great habitat for beautiful insects, birds & animals.

After spending around 2 hours at the resort we suddenly noticed a large moth sitting near one of the doors. The moth had a wingspan of around 5-6 inches and had beautiful green and pink colors. There were two green leaf-like beautiful antennas in the front. I immediately clicked a few photographs of the moth. As it was day time so the moth was just resting and was not concerned with the happenings around. I had never seen such a beautiful creature earlier. After 4-5 hours I had to leave the venue to return back to Chandigarh.  The moth was still in the same place resting.

The Indian Moon Moth
The Indian Moon Moth

The next day I processed the photographs and uploaded one of the photographs of the moth to the “Natural Biodiversity” Facebook group. This photograph received many likes & comments as it was not seen earlier by many of the members. It was identified as the “Indian Moon Moth“. I read a few articles on the net and also checked out some more pictures of this moth taken around the world.

Close Up of the Leaf Like Antenna - The Indian Moon Moth
Close Up of the Leaf Like Antenna

One week later on 4th May 2016 I received a mail with the subject “REQUEST FROM THE ‘HINDUSTAN TIMES’ CHANDIGARH“. I immediately opened the mail and was thrilled to see that Mr. Vikram Jit Singh, Wildlife correspondent with Hindustan Times and the author of the weekly ‘Wildbuzz’ column wanted to publish my photograph of the moth in the next edition. As required I shared the additional details like the place, date and time of the photograph. And now the only wait was for the coming Sunday, to grab the copy of Hindustan Times and check the article on the moon moth.

Finally after a long wait 🙂 it was Sunday 8th May 2016. I checked the Wildbuzz section and there it was, my photograph of the “Indian Moon Moth” and a very nicely written article by Mr. Vikram Jit Singh under the title “Wings of Paradise“.

Hindustan Times Clipping - The Indian Moon Moth
Hindustan Times Clipping (8th May 2016)

Quoting from the article,

“If one is lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a moon moth fluttering into the night, it would be akin to being visited by an apparition or a mermaid surfing the air waves.”

I think I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.

Mr. Vikram Jit Singh took the guidance of Dr. Roger Kendrick, who is based in Hong Kong and is an authority on Asian Moths. According to Dr. Kendrick the name of the moth is Actias Selene (family Saturniidae), i.e. Indian Moon Moth.

As per Dr. Kendrick,

“The individual in the photo appears to be a male: the body (abdominal part) is not ‘fat’ with eggs, and the antennae (the green leaf-like structures) appear plumose. Adult Saturniidae (all members of the ‘Emperor Moth’ family) have no functional haustellum (tongue or proboscis), so they can’t feed in the adult stage of the life cycle. Consequently, the adult phase is brief, limited by the amount of fat reserves accumulated by the larva. So maybe a week for the adult, though often less. Please note that for moth species in other families, life expectancy for the adult phase of the life cycle may well be longer (adults of some species of Erebidae moths will over-winter in the adult phase, so could live for five to six months as an adult). “

This was a big achievement for me as it was the first time my clicked photograph was published in a leading newspaper. I would like to thank Mr. Vikram Jit Singh for giving me this recognition.

Scan of Wildbuzz Print Version - The Indian Moon Moth
Scan of Wildbuzz Print Version (8th May 2016)

3 Replies to “The Indian Moon Moth”

  1. Thanks for your kind words, Vineet. The photo was outstanding. I recollect the day the column was published, I was playing golf at the chandigarh golf club that sunday. Many golfers stopped and appreciated your pix, including the Senior Editor of HT, Mr Ramesh Vinayak. Keep up the fine work, and your eyes peeled, your lenses ready for action. wildlife photography is also a matter of chance, of luck, so be everready. one really does not know when a unique opportunity will present itself.

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