This week we decided to feature a local favorite that some of you may have even seen hanging around your house! It’s the Cecropia moth. Cecropia moths live in Eastern and Central North America from Canada to Mexico. Like most moths, they fly at night and rest during the day. So even though they could be living in your neighborhood, the only time you would easily see them is if they were attracted to your house lights and landed near them to rest for the day. Cecropia moths are America’s largest moth with a wingspan sometimes reaching 6-inches!!! They belong to the Saturniid Moth family “the Giant Silk Moths”, one of only 5 species in the Northern Illinois area. Normally they have only one generation per year in our area. Their caterpillars feed on a variety of trees and shrubs that are commonly found in many residential yards and include Maple, Cherry, Willow, Birch, and several others.
The Cecropia’s most impressive characteristics are its large size, beautiful reddish-brown color, and antennae that look like feathers. These featherlike antennae are most critical to the Cecropia’s survival. Because the Cecropia is a night flyer, males must find their female mates without seeing them. The females emit a pheromone scent that the males can detect with their super-sensitive antennae. The male’s antennae are so sensitive, that they can detect the female’s scent from as far away as one mile!!! It is of the utmost importance that the males find the females as soon as possible, because Cecropia moths only live for about one week as adults. This is because Saturniid moths do not have any mouth parts. They have no way to feed as adults. All of their energy is stored from the food they ate as caterpillars, sometimes 9 months earlier. The adult moths usually emerge from their cocoons in early June depending on the weather, and their caterpillars usually are ready to make their cocoons in September, where they will hibernate until the following June and start the cycle again. The caterpillars grow through 5 different color stages and will almost double their size and weight every day for about 6 weeks. We have included a photo of the full size caterpillar in our album, along with several other photos of this incredible moth!
We have these amazing moths in our Wonders Of Nature department in wooden frames for just $75! And we have also mounted them in less expensive black frames that are ideal for young collectors like the one pictured here for only $20.00!!! It’s the perfect “starter” gift for a young aspiring collector, something they will always treasure.
Please look at the pictures in our Friday Flyers album to see more images of the Cecropia Moth! Feel free to post a comment if you like, or ask a question. We love talking about these beauties! And be sure to “like” us to see a new Friday Flyer every week, and “share” our post to help spread the beauty of the Wonders of Nature!
A live male Cecropia moth!
A close up of the antennae of a male Cecropia moth!
A full grown Cecropia Caterpillar!
This is a Cecropia moth cocoon. They're easy to spot in winter once the leaves have fallen.
A huge Cecropia moth from our store - ONLY $20!!