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An Explanation of Balanced Ecosystem: Luna Moth

Balanced Ecosystem: Luna Moth

Acrylic on Upcycled Old Hollow Door


22” x 30”

Interested in all the different plants and animals in this painting, how they fit into our ecosystem, and which ones you can eat? Check out the list below describing each element and how it relates to the overall theme of the work of art. It’s a long list-so read them all or jump to the ones in which you’re most interested!

The painting depicts a luna moth in a Midwest night scene below stages of the moon. The black background creates a striking composition, making the colors seem vivid-I enjoy the drama the dark background brings to this scene of a midwest balanced ecosystem, featuring some edible and native plants and animals. It is painted on an old hollow wooden door I took out of a house built in 1880-I found a solid wooden panel door that fit the aesthetic of the old house much better.

This painting was created by Rebecca Stockert and the concept is attributed to Mike Hoag of Transformative Adventures.

Purchase prints of this painting here.

  1. Luna Moth: Sightings of this insect are coveted by people. They have a very short lifespan, only seven to ten days, and are nocturnal, making seeing them rare-though they are not technically endangered. Adult moths emerge in late spring across the United States; they are a native species.

  2. Moon Cycles: The moon cycles in this painting depicts a truncated version of the entire moon phase (with the exception of the new moon phase). The moon, coupled with the luna moth, speaks to the transformative and feminine aspects of our lives.

  3. Pawpaws: Pawpaws are a native fruit tree to the Eastern Woodlands in the United States. They went out of fashion in favor of other fruits, but have been making a comeback in recent years due to an interest in native plants. They are green-skinned with yellow flesh and taste like a cross between bananas and mangoes. Pawpaws must be planted very close to one another as they are pollinated by flies. If you’d like to add these fruits to your orchard, look for superior varieties such as Mango, Shenandoah, and/or Prolific.

  4. Eastern Bluebird: Bluebirds are North American natives and a delightful addition to backyards. They are omnivorous, eaters of insects and berries. To attract them to your garden or yard, consider leaving dead trees for these cavity-nesters. Plant native berry-bearing bushes and put out a bird bath. Unfortunately, this species has been in decline for several decades because of the introduction of more aggressive species such as the starling and european sparrow who can dominate environments.

  5. Garden Spider: Though they may evoke panic for people with mild-to-severe arachnophobia, the common yellow garden spider is harmless and not aggressive. You can observe and enjoy them in your garden with pleasure. Larger than most people encounter on a regular basis, the creature is not a cause for alarm but rather a sign of a healthy environment. Though not depicted in this painting, they are known for zigzagging their webs.

  6. Ostrich Ferns: Imagine yourself in the middle of a forest surrounded by ferns-what do you feel? Calm, serenity, or the coolness of the forest, perhaps. These plants are also edible and the young, unfurled fronds (“fiddleheads”) can be eaten-they taste a little like asparagus. They prefer moist soil. Though native to North America, they can be aggressive growers, so if they get out of control, start eating!

  7. Mushrooms: The mushrooms in this painting are loosely based on specimens native to the Midwest and are here for aesthetic purposes; if you see something like these in the wild, they may or may not be poisonous. Do not eat mushrooms from the wild if you are not knowledgeable! They can be deadly. Mushrooms play a vital role in decomposition and are important for healthy ecosystems.

  8. Common Snails: There are a handful of gastropods native to the United States; this specimen is just a generic snail. Though an irritant for some gardeners, they are a sign of a healthy ecosystem (side note: the common and memorable leopard slug is native to Europe and not originally from this continent).

  9. Frog/Waterways: Wetlands can be called ‘biological supermarkets’ as they are diverse and plentiful sources of food and nutrients for ecosystems. Humans have discovered the importance of wetlands and marshes to their own survival. They act as sponges for rainwater and filter toxins out of our drinking water. There are over a dozen types of frogs native to Indiana-one of the many residents drawn to these environments. Frog legs, anyone?

  10. Monarch Butterfly: A migratory insect, monarch butterflies can travel over 1200 miles from breeding grounds in Canada to their winter hibernation spots in Mexico. Monarch butterflies' arrivals in Mexico coincide with the Day of the Dead celebrations and symbolize the souls of loved ones returning. With declining populations, the monarch butterfly is at risk. Consider adding common milkweed to your garden-the host plant of the monarch.

  11. Raspberries: A variety of raspberries are native to the northern hemisphere-several to North America. A summer favorite, raspberries grow wild or can be cultivated.

  12. Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes): A North American sunflower known for its edible root vegetable. Claude Monet painted a bouquet of Jerusalem Artichokes in 1880, which is now hanging in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. They are neither artichokes nor associated with Jerusalem.

  13. Male Northern Cardinal: A favorite backyard songbird, the northern cardinal is not considered edible, but is a favorite meal of falcons, eagles, and owls. This bird has gained territory in the last century, rather than losing it, unlike many other species-so it is not considered endangered, at this time. It enjoys eating sunflower seeds.

  14. Cornelian Cherries: In the dogwood family, the cornelian cherry is native to Europe and Asia. It produces yellow flowers and red, edible berries. The fruit can be sour, but makes a great jam and was the original flavor in sherbet. The fruit also makes great food for birds.

Blog post by Rebecca Stockert with contributions from Mike Hoag.

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