Tag Archives: Cecropia Moths Mating

FREE EGGS OF GIANT SILK MOTH BEAUTIES!

Over the past week, we have released thirty-one Cecropia Moths. A neighbor over on Harriet Ave photographed a Cecropia Moth and I am wondering if it is one of ours 🙂

To clarify for anyone who may be wondering, Cecropia Moth caterpillars are not like the invasive, non-native Gypsy Moths and Winter Moths, which defoliate trees. Cecropia caterpillars cause very little harm to trees.

Cecropia Moth eggs

We had approximately nine pairs mating and the females deposited a treasure trove of eggs. I have the names of several people who have expressed interest in raising the moths and will contact everyone as soon as all eggs are deposited. Please let me know if you would like to nurture the funniest looking caterpillars that turn into the grandest beauties.

Raising Cecropias is not quite as simple as rearing Monarchs, but it’s not challenging either and is just as interesting and as much fun. This is a fantastic project to do with children. Kids love giant silk moths. The creatures are so large you can easily observe every stage of their life cycle, from egg to caterpillar to pupation to cocoon to adult.  Our Charlotte is crazy about Cecropias and looks after them throughout the day. The caterpillars live for about two months. You will need to constantly replenish the leaves as they mature because the later instars are voracious eaters.

After the caterpillar pupates and becomes a cocoon, you’ll need a safe place to keep them where they will experience ambient winter temperatures. We keep ours on our front porch, which is not enclosed, in large glass terrariums (fish tanks) during all four seasons.

Cecropia caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, including alder, ash, birch, box elder, chokecherry, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, and willow. Cecropia Moth caterpillars are not like invasive non-native Gypsy Moths and People are always a bit dismayed when I tell them that the adult moth ecloses without mouthparts and cannot eat during its brief lifespan. The adult’s only purpose in life is to mate and lay eggs of the next generation. The males and females only live for about a week or so.

If you are interested in rearing cecropia Moth caterpillars, please read the following two articles to better understand the moth’s life cycle. Contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you are still interested after reading the articles.

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART ONE

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART TWO

Cecropia moths mating

STUNNING CECROPIA MOTHS MATING! AND EGGS!!

For readers interested in raising Cecropia Moths, I have some eggs. Raising Cecropias is not quite as simple as rearing Monarchs, but it’s not challenging either and is just as interesting and as much fun. The caterpillars live for about a month and you need to constantly replenish the leaves as they mature because the later instars are voracious eaters.

Cecropia Moths Mating – the pair stay coupled together for about a day; the female is on the left, the male, right

After the caterpillar pupates and becomes a cocoon, you’ll need a safe place to keep them where they will experience ambient winter temperatures. We keep ours on our front porch, which is not enclosed, in large glass terrariums (fish tanks) during all four seasons.

Cecropia caterpillars eat the leaves of many trees and shrubs, including alder, ash, birch, box elder, chokecherry, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, and willow. People are always a bit dismayed when I tell them that the adult moth ecloses without mouthparts and cannot eat during its brief lifespan. The adult’s only purpose in life is to mate and lay eggs of the next generation. The males and females only live for about a week or so.

It you are interested in rearing cecropia Moth caterpillars, please read the following two articles to better understand the moth’s life cycle. Contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com if you are still interested after reading the articles.

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART ONE

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART TWO

CECROPIA LOVE AMONGST THE LILACS

NORTH AMERICA’S STUNNING AND LARGEST MOTH THE CECROPIA AND WHY THESE GIANT SILK MOTHS ARE THREATENED – PART TWO

See Part One Here

After spending the winter and most of the spring tightly wrapped in their cocoons of spun silk, the first male eclosed on the last day of May. Burly and beautiful, Cecropia Moths emerge with wings patterned in white crescent spots outlined in rust and black, sapphire blue and black eyespots, waves and wiggly lines in soft woodland hues, and a wide tubular body banded and dotted orange, black and white.

It is easy to tell the difference between a male and female because of the male’s spectacular plume- like antennae.

The females were equally as easy to identify because their antennae are comparatively more slender.

Males rely on their superbly oversized antennae to detect the female’s pheromones.

After each Cecropia Moth emerged from its cocoon and their wings had dried, we placed them on the shrubs around our front porch. The males eventually flew off, but the females stayed in one place and usually by morning we would find a pair, or two, mating in our garden.

They stayed coupled together all day long, uncoupling sometime during the evening. We kept two of the females for several days and both rewarded us with dozens of eggs.

I had read it only takes a week or so for the larvae to emerge from their eggs and was beginning to think ours were not viable, when they began hatching today! In actuality it really took between two and three weeks for the caterpillars to emerge. Possibly the cooler temperatures during this period slowed hatching. The caterpillars are teeny tiny, perhaps one quarter of an inch, black with pokey spines. Charlotte and I collected a bunch of Chokecherry (Prunus viginiana) branches this morning as we prepare to raise another batch of stunning Cecropias.

The adults, both male and female, are short lived. Giant Silk Moths, which include Luna, Polyphemus, Promethea, and Cecropia emerge without mouthparts and cannot eat. Cecropia Moths spend several months in the larval stage, most of their lives as a cocoon, and only a week or two as their beautiful winged adult selves. Giant Silk Moths live only to reproduce.

Threats to Giant Silk Moths are significant. The number one threat is Compsilura concinnata, a tachinid fly that was introduced to North America to control invasive European Gypsy Moths. Both insects are a cautionary tale of why not to introduce invasive species without knowing the full breadth of the harm they will cause. Spraying trees with toxic pesticides that kills both the caterpillars and the cocoons is also a major threat. And, too, squirrels eat the cocoons

Hyalophora cecropia moths are univoltine, having only one generation per year. Our Cecropias began hatching just before the full moon. I have more cocoons and am wondering if this next batch of moths are waiting to emerge prior to July’s full moon.