Cecropia moth story continued

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Last summer I enjoyed raising six Cecropia moth caterpillars (Hyalophora cecropia) from eggs. In late July, the caterpillars spun large cocoons incorporating the red maple leaves they had been feeding on as caterpillars.


I left the cocoons outdoors all winter, hoping the adult moths would eventually emerge – and they did! This was the first one, and its wings were still too soft for it to fly. Harry is holding the beautiful moth which is resting on its empty cocoon. It was an exciting moment.

Cecropia moth

However, there was even more excitement to come. The second moth had a larger abdomen and less feathering of its antennae. I suspected it was a female and put it in a separate cage. The next morning I was thrilled to see that a male moth had found her and they were mating.

Cecropia moths mating

They stayed together all day and by the next morning she was laying lots of tiny eggs. Will they become caterpillars? Only time will tell. It’s been a thrilling experience to observe and release moths from all six of last year’s cocoons, and I would love to repeat the cycle.

26 thoughts on “Cecropia moth story continued”

  1. What incredibly beautiful animals! I’ve never seen one in person but would love to film them someday.

    How fortunate you were to follow them thought their life cycle.

    Hope you have a bunch of little ones crawling around soon!

    1. Yes, Kevin, they are indeed beautiful and yes, I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity of observing them. I do hope you can see and film them sometime.

    2. Yes, Kevin, they are indeed beautiful and yes, I am fortunate to have observed their life cycle. I hope you can see and film them someday. As you can imagine, I’m keeping close watch on those eggs.

  2. This is a stunningly beautiful moth! Your top image really captures both the beautiful colours and the feathery-like textures of the moths body. Looking forward to hearing how the eggs progress – do you feel like a moth doula 🙂

  3. Betty – how beautiful and extraordinary! It has been thrilling to follow this saga from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing it with us all.

    1. It is my pleasure, Linda. I am grateful to have had the experience and I’m also grateful to be able to share it others who are interested.

  4. I’m thrilled to have dropped by your home at just the right moment to see these beauties mating. They are stunning, so beautiful! Can’t wait to hear that you’ve got caterpillars. Fingers crossed.

    1. Ann, so glad you came by when you did. It was a first for me and I expect very few people have been seen. Thanks for the crossed fingers. Caterpillars would indeed be welcome.

    1. Yes, Sara, is was a treasured experience and am glad to be able to share it with the photographs.

    1. Yes, Judy, with all your photography I know that you, too, appreciate these amazing creatures, and the furry head and abdomen was a surprise to me.

  5. Some 25+ years ago I got the opportunity to witness a pair of Cecropia mating and photo for approximately 20 hours. What amazed me most is that the male has no digestive track, it cannot eat to replenish it’s body. 3 days of life, almost a 1/3 reproducing.

    1. Glad to hear from you, Ben. I can’t be sure when this male appeared (before dawn) or left (after 10 p.m.) but the two were together for 17 hours or longer. I, too, am surprised that neither the male or female has mouth parts and therefore, cannot eat. My on-line research indicates they may live 7 days to 2 weeks.

  6. Ah! What beauty nature gives us, when we take the time to notice. Thanks to good people like you ,we get a real close look. Thanks Betty

    1. Yes, Doris, so much to enjoy “when” we take the time to notice. The camera helps me do that, however I still appreciate frequent reminders. Thanks.

    1. Keli, they are big – the largest moth in North America. When they fly, it’s easy imagine they are a small bird.

  7. Amazing documentation, Betty. Joan was particularly thrilled by this post, claimed it to be “best ever”.

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