Would you like to raise a Cecropia Moth?

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For the 4th year, I have Cecropia moth caterpillars (Hyalolphora cecropia). This is a male and female mating early this month. The male is on the left, with larger antennae (click the photo for a larger image). The female proceeded to lay many eggs, and tiny caterpillars have now emerged.

I plan to raise a few of the caterpillars – the rest are available to anyone who’s interested.

Cecropia moths mating
Male and female Cecropia moths mating. The male is on the left, and has larger antennae. Click the image for a larger version.

This is a collage of their life cycle.

Cecropia moth life cycle
Cecropia moth life cycle.

David Britton has created a fascinating video of the Cecropia moth life cycle. It condenses 7 weeks into 13 minutes. If you’re considering raising a caterpillar, the video lets you know what to expect. Otherwise, it allows you to see one more example of nature’s miracles.

To raise caterpillars, you’ll need:

  • A covered container that allows air circulation. I use a plastic box with netting.
  • A good source of food for about six weeks. Some of my caterpillars are eating Red Maple leaves (Acer rubrum), and the rest are feeding on Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina).
  • The caterpillars will eventually make cocoons that can be put outside. If you wish to see the adults emerge next May or June, keep the cocoons in a protected cage in a cold place through the winter.

If you’re interested in one or more caterpillars, please contact me. I’d also appreciate you sharing this blog with anyone else you think might be interested.

7 thoughts on “Would you like to raise a Cecropia Moth?”

  1. I would love to raise some caterpillars of the Giant silk moths if you are still doing it and have any to part with.

    1. Jess, Glad to now of your interest. I don’t currently have any moth caterpillars. However, if I get any in the near future, I’ll let you know. Hope you can manage to find some. It’s a fun experience.

  2. We came across a caterpillar on the sidewalk the other day and moved him to a nearby garden only for it to go on the sidewalk again. My kids were concerned someone would step on it so put it in a bug container to bring to show their class. However overnight it made its cacoon. Should we leave it be or try to move it into the garden.

    1. Tina,
      Glad to have your email and glad your kids wanted to save it. It would be neat if you could identify the caterpillar so that you would know what moth is in the making. You might google Silk Moth caterpillars – I’m guessing a Promethea, Polyphemus, or Cecropia. The cocoon will likely overwinter and the moth emerge next late spring or early summer. If you keep it in the bug cage, it would need to be kept in a cool place so that it doesn’t emerge prematurely – possibly a garage, or porch. Or you can put it outside – maybe attach it to a tree limb. In that case, it will be vulnerable to outdoor predators – birds, squirrels, etc. The kids science teacher would also be a good resource of information and I can imagine he/she would be glad for the kids to bring it to school. Hope this help.

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