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HYALOPHORA CECROPIA MOTH

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CECROPIA MOTH


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Classification

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Insecta

Order Lepidoptera

Family Saturniidae

Genus Hyalophora

Species H. Cecropia

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HYALOPHORA CECROPIA MOTH

Hyalophora cecropia, the cecropia moth, is North America's largest native moth. It is a member of the family Saturniidae, or giant silk moths. Females have been documented with a wingspan of 160mm or more.These nocturnal moths are found in hardwood forests east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. They are attracted to street and porch lights, which is where most people encounter them.

Cecropia moth larvae are most commonly found on maple trees, but they have also been found on cherry and birch trees among many others. The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1758.

Like other members of the giant silk moth family, the cecropia moth lacks functional mouth parts and a digestive system. Adult moths cannot eat, so if a predator doesn't scoop them up, they die after two weeks.

In order to find a mate, male cecropia moths must have extraordinary senses. A female moth produces natural chemicals called pheromones, which the male can detect from over a mile away. Females lay over a hundred eggs, although many of the caterpillars won’t live to see adulthood. When the caterpillars hatch, they are black in color. As they go through successive molts, they increase in size and change color from black to yellow to green. At the end of the summer, the five-inch-long caterpillar seals itself into a cocoon and emerges in the spring as a moth. The sole purpose of the adult stage is to mate and lay eggs.

After mating, the female will lay up to one hundred eggs. These eggs are a mottled reddish brown and are usually found on either side of a host leaf. These eggs will eventually hatch into tiny black caterpillars.

This species is stable. Cecropia caterpillars are found in such low abundances, they don’t cause significant damage to ornamental landscaping.

Once the caterpillars reach maturity, they spin large brown cocoons longways on trees or wooden structures. They will then emerge as adults in the first two weeks of seasonally warm weather in early summer. Hyalophora cecropia moths are univoltine, having only one generation per year.

Upon reaching adulthood, their size is variable. They are usually quite large, with a wingspan of about 130 to 180 mm. The cecropia moth's wings are brownish with red near the base of the forewing. There are crescent-shaped spots of red with whitish centers on all wings, but are larger on the hindwings. All wings have whitish coloration followed by reddish bands of shading beyond the postmedial line that runs longitudinally down the center of all four wings. The body is hairy, with reddish coloring on the anterior, and fading to reddish/whitish. The abdomen has alternating bands of red and white.


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