If you’ve never seen a luna moth, you aren’t alone. These beautiful creatures only live for about one week as adults, and their lives are so fleeting that their beauty is somewhat magical. So, seeing these incredible pictures of a magnified adult luna moth’s wing is downright stunning!
The luna moth wings are small when they first climb out of their cocoons and must be inflated with liquid in order to harder and be used to fly. The small opening is where the liquid can be seen from the outside, and this is often called the “eye” to ward off predators. You can still see a small amount of residue from where the liquid used to be in this wing.
These images were taken on a 1951 American Optical Spencer microscope. Although it may be a bit outdated, the concept is still the same as modern microscopes, except that it obviously cannot transfer the image digitally onto a computer screen. These pictures have to be taken from the eye of the microscope, which is impressive on its own. He may have used specialized equipment, but we can’t be sure.
Each of those small, dented strips are what make up the scales on the moth’s wing. If you were to touch them, they would come off on your fingertips and seem to be a sort of strange dust-like substance. The moth would still be able to fly without the scales (they don’t actually need them for flight) but the likelihood that the wing would be damaged from the brief contact is very high.