Promethea moth

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In mid-May, my friend Connie May brought me a tiny yellow-and-black caterpillar to raise. For four weeks it ate tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) leaves and grew to be two inches long.

Two-inch Callosamia promethea Moth Caterpillar

I especially liked its yellow “booties” and red spikes.

Callosamia promethea Caterpillar on stick

Here my six-year-old neighbor, Nancy, proves that the caterpillar is harmless.

Child Holding Callosamia promethea Moth Caterpillar

Soon afterwards, the caterpillar enclosed itself in this cocoon.

Callosamia promethea Moth Cocoon

Then one morning last week, I walked by my butterfly cage and was thrilled to see this beautiful moth drying its wings. It’s a female Promethea moth (Callosamia promethea), one of our giant silkworm moths.

Female Callosamia promethea mothI realize most moths are not nearly as large or showy as this one. However, I see all of them as mysterious and an essential part of nature’s web. I want to know more about them – especially the ones in our backyard.

22 thoughts on “Promethea moth”

  1. Again Betty…You blow me away with your photography. You give each creature a real personality along with your narrative. Just wondering how many inches across that wingspan is! – Norm

  2. Wow, Betty – these are great! FYI: I’ve recuperated nicely from neck surgery, only to have been laid off from my job at UK. Nevertheless, I hope to see you at the next Wild Ones meeting. By the way, the Hearts A-Burstin’ plant you gave me is very healthy. I still have it in a pot until it gets to be a good size.

    1. Good to hear from you Kathy. Glad to know the surgery went well, but sorry to hear you’ve been laid off from UK.Also glad to know the Hearts-a-Burstin is healthy.

    1. I’m not sure everyone would agree that the caterpillar is lovely, Jane, but I expect most would agree that it’s certainly an attention getter.

  3. Wow! How exciting! That caterpillar is something else. It’s a creature that some might react to negatively, little realizing that it would soon transform into a gorgeous moth. Magic, it’s definitely magic, this change from one kind of creature to another kind of creature, and in such a short time.

  4. Gorgeous caterpillar and… usual amazing photography! Do you have a tulip poplar or did your friend supply the food?

    As always, thanks for including me in your distribution list! Yours is one email I do NOT delete ; )

    1. Good to hear from you, Christine. Hope your summer going well and hope it’s not as hot and dry as in Kentucky. We have plenty of tulip poplar around us so caterpillar food was not a problem.

  5. Betty, so very interesting, and done with such care. I join with others in sending a big thank you your way — Ann on Mauk Ridge

  6. Great pictures, Betty. Our friend, Jane, sent the link. We hope to see your garden when the weather breaks. Sara

  7. I found this beautiful caterpillar on our pool deck. Sadly, it had fallen from our huge poplar tree during a storm and ruptured a little. My kids and I cared for it all day hoping it would be resilient and work it’s way back up the tree. Poor thing didn’t make it and now, I am especially sad to see how beautiful it would’ve turned out as this moth. Teaching the kids the Circle of Life, I left it in front of a family of Carolina Wrens. I expected either the Mockingbirds or Catbirds to get to it first, but Mother Wren snatched it up immediately to feed her three chicks. I don’t know how those tiny birds could swallow such a huge caterpillar, but somehow at least one of them managed. Your pictures are outstanding. Thank you for your dedication and attention to the “ordinary”.

    1. Shannon, thanks for your story. I’m impressed with how you handled it with your kids. And yes, that would surely have been a mouthful for a baby wren. Thanks, too, for your comments about the photos. Sounds to me like you, also, appreciate the “ordinary”.

  8. Beautiful photos! I came upon this post tonight as I was searching for information on a caterpillar I just found. This is exactly the one! She’s a gorgeous creature – in both forms! I can’t wait to see the moth! Thank you for your post!

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