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Luna moth discovered in the city

The Sentinel, Guwahati, 10th May, 2013

Two students namely Sumit Das and Gyanendra Deka, who are also the members of an environment NGO Help Art, discovered a Luna moth (Actias luna) from city’s Garbhanga area. Garbhanga area of the city is a dense forest area and is considered as a bio–diversity hot–spot zone. Part of this forest area falls in Meghalaya and part in Assam.

Luna moth, which belongs to the Saturniidae family, is of lime green colour, and has a wing span of 75 mm to 105 mm. Its known distribution range is restricted to North America, Canada and Mexico. This should be an invaluable addition to the State’s remarkable bio–diversity. The Luna moth resembles the Indian Luna moth (Actias selene) a little, which is found in different parts of India. But the Luna moth’s main distribution is restricted to North America, Canada and Mexico.

This is not a new discovery, as Luna moth was discovered by conservationists working in the remote forests of upper Assam bordering Nagaland, which earlier was not known to inhabit any part of India or Asia. The conservationists came across the moth during their field visits to Abhoypur Reserve Forest of Sonari in Sivasagar district on two occasions. The discovery of the Luna moth excited the entomologists, who believed that it can throw new light on the distribution ranges of hitherto unknown species.

"Discover of Luna moth in the urban areas is a new thing as they are not known to be found in such areas. They probably belong to the interiors of Garbhanga forests. But there are a lot of stone quarries nearby this area, which hampers the peace and tranquillity these creatures desire for. These quarries should immediately be closed down and allow the wild animals to live in peace," said Gyanendra Deka. The moth was later released into the hills of Sarania hills.

While Assam has a rich and fascinating insect life with a wide–ranging variety of butterflies and moths, among others, it still awaits adequate research and documentation. Assam is home to some 900 species of butterflies but widespread habitat loss and fragmentation has led to the decline of a number of butterfly species in the State.