Too Good to not Share

Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)May 14, 2008

I discovered this huge moth in my front yard flowerbed today. It is a Cecropia Silkmoth, the largest moth in the U.S.:

It's wingspan is over 6 inches !

I thought it had just hatched out, and wanted to keep it so Tim and the girls could see it when they come this weekend. I put it in a fish bowl and brought it indoors. I put some leaves in with it to make it more comfortable. After awhile I discovered it was laying eggs on the leaves ! I still planned on keeping it indoors, but Nolon noticed it was trying to get out of the bowl, so I took it out and put it and it's leaves on top of a spreading juniper where it would be safe from the cats. Later on, just before dark, I went out to check on it. It had crawled up on to a branch of my orchid cactus, that is setting on the stump by the juniper. It was laying more eggs on the cactus! :

It's upper wing is rather blurry because it was fluttering it as it layed the eggs.

I love it ! Such a blessing !

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Marian, that is one amazing moth! I can see why you would be Such colors and it seems like it stayed still long enough to let you get close enough to get a good photo. You say it is a silk moth, does that mean you could raise them for silk? [g]

It seems unusual to me that there are silk moths in your area.

Thanks for sharing...great photos!


    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:15PM
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Wonderful Marian ! I have a friend here who collects Monarch eggs, she uses shade cloth to shroud the plant and provide protection for the eggs.Thanks for sharing this-hope all is well with you and Nolan.
Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 10:17PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Wow! That's pretty amazing. I would have assumed it way a butterfly - did you know what it was immediately or did you have to look it up? There was an interesting article in National Geographic a year or so ago on moths. They had some pretty amazing close pictures of the wings. If I remember right, the obvious difference between moths and butterflies had something to do with the shape of the ends of their antennae....

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:34AM
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Very good find! Luna moths are the biggest moth I've ever used to be fun to watch them dance around the porch light.

Kathy, that's interesting, as the eggs must have lots of predators. Marian, will you try to "save" and observe the process? Those eggs are pretty large in themselves!

We once hatched a huge catepillar in a picnic basket (think about the old wicker baskets with the two lids, but mine was a playskool plastic style) - we found him (lime green and about 4" long and very thick) and put him in the basket where he quickly spun his coccoon, so that we couldn't opened the hinged lids. When he emerged he must've been able to open the basket and flew away without my ever knowing what he looked like.

There must be a lesson about letting nature "be" in there somewhere :)


    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Very cool, thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:47AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Woody, at first I thought it was an Imperial, but I looked up the pics of it and realized it wasn't.(There is no resemblance.) Here is a pic I took of an Imperial a few years ago:

Saucy, I love the Lunas. I have pics I have taken of them too...well I thought I did, but there are none in my PT Butterfly and Moth album. :-(

Pm2, I took lots more pics of it. It was too intent on the preparation of laying it's eggs to be afraid of me.I clipped off the dead 'stick' that it was on and dropped it into the fish bowl. It made no effort to escape. When I dumped it out onto the juniper it still did not try to escape from me.

It is also called a Robin Moth.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 9:51AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Oh Marian, what a treat! I'm so glad you got to photograph the different stages. Keep us posted with what you see next!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:04PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Sorry Marie, when I went out to look for it this morning it was gone. Hopefully to a more appropriate place to finish laying it's eggs. They lay around 100, and only live about 10 days after hatching into a moth. The moths do not eat. A few eggs are still stuck inside the fish bowl. I will watch them to see if/when they hatch( about 2 weeks).
Very few caterpillars survive the predators.

Michelle, I love your thread and your DGD's fascination with all things on your farm.

Saucy, that's too bad that you were not able to get to see the emerging moth. It could have been a Cecropia, their caterpillars are lime green and huge.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:25PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Marian, sorry the moth has moved on, it was exciting while it lasted. Maybe the eggs will hatch. That would be something.

I haven't seen any caterpillars yet this year. I didn't think they came around until it warmed up. We are still in the 60s during the day and low 50s at night.

That is another cool photo of the second moth. I took some photos last summer of moths out at night. I hope I see more this year.

Thanks for shairng yours!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 8:25AM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Pm2, the Imperial is large too, but not as large as the's wing span can get up to 5 inches. The one I pictured was discovered by Nolon while walking up to our mailbox. If it had not moved I don't think he would have seen it. It resembles just another dead leaf.

Both of these moths were in broad daylight.

Other moths that I enjoy are the Hummingbird clearwing moths and Bumblebee hawk moths. I have aready seen one of the latter this spring. They ARE daytime moths.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 8:59AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Marian, I love Hummingbird Moths too. I had a couple in the garden for the first time last year. They seemed to be attracted to the BBush. I wasn't able to get a good photo of them though. Here are two nighttime is a small moth and the other was a spider who made a web in the BBush. Not even half as interesting as your moths, but thought I might show you what turns up here at night. I hope to get more interesting photos this year. I planted a second BBush, which attracts more visitors than any other plant in my garden.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Full_Bloom(z5 IL)

Marian...what a neat story and what great pics too! Your moth is very cool! Years ago I did a talk on butterflies, which included a moth that I had seen in my garden. The moth that visited my Crabapple tree was a Polyphemus moth. I tried to see if I had a pic of it for you, but all my butterfly pics are on slides. Anyway, I don't know if it's true of *all* moths, but I do know that the Polyphemus moth (who is huge and has similar coloring to your guy) is born without mouth parts?! It only lives for one week on the energy it stored as a larva. :-( I know it's the way of nature, but that fact always made me kind of sad.

I was so inspired by your moth that I went looking for my old talk and found a little fact sheet I passed out to the audience called "Obscure, but Interesting Facts About Butterflies". Hope you don't mind me sharing, but I thought you might find some of them interesting:

1) Butterflies are one of the few cold blooded animals that migrate.
2) Butterflies have most of their tast organs on the front feet and need only to step in a sweet solution to taste it.
3) Butterflies navigate (in part) by reading the earth's magnetic field.
4) Caterpillars of the Lobster Moth look like bird dung.
5) Monarch butterflies feed on the leaves of milkweed (Asclepias), a poisonous plant, to which they are immune, but which makes the butterflies poisonous to birds, who have learned to leave Monarchs alone.
6) A male butterfly can home in on the scent of a female that is miles away.
7) The male butterfly of the Danaidae family travels from flower to flower picking up the scent of each flower it visits until he has the particular perfume that attracts his female partner.
8) Butterflies often give off an aroma (though I've never got close enough to smell it...LOL...but I'm told it is true). Anyway, butterflies often give off an aroma to attract a mate and can smell like roses, sweetbriar, heliotrope and other flowers. :-)

Hope I didn't bore you! :-)

BTW, that Imperial is *beautiful* too! I have never seen a luna moth in person, but *really*...*really*...*really* want to! :-) My mom said she use to see them all the time in Tennessee, but I was never lucky enough to see any when I was there visiting.

I'm a hummingbird moth lover too PM & Marian. They are the sweetest, busiest little things and seem to love my Monarda.

Anyway, thanks for sharing Marian...I really enjoyed your post.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 11:42PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Good morning pm2 and Eileen!
Pm2, I would have answered you sooner, but I had my computer off in case our son wanted to call me. They ( he and the 3 granddaughters) got here last night, after 9. We set up and gabbed until almost 11....well past my bedtime.
My eyes were playing tricks on me and I had to look at your moth pic awhile before figuring it out! LOL.
I like to take pics of spiders and their webs, too. Yours is a neat pic.

Ei, I will do a search on the Polyphemus moth. Yes, the Cecropia adult has no mouth parts. At least we don't have to worry about being bit by one! LOL. But they sure do have clingy feet!
No, I wasn't bored with your "facts". They are interesting. I am familiar with most of them, but not the last one. I have never been able to smell one either. :-)

Our company is still in their beds. I will soon have to cook breakfast for them all.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 8:05AM
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