Giant Silkworm Moth (Cecropia) wows a photographer


Cecropia moth sleeping

Cecropia moth sleeping

Here we are again in the land of natural resources.  I walked outside to look at an herb garden I planted several years ago when a resident pointed out a sleeping moth nearby.  Wow, it was a giant silkworm moth.  The beautiful Cecropia moth. (Hyalophora cecropia) was sound asleep and didn’t even know I was there.

The colorful rusty legs, feathery antennae and patterned body with bull’s eye markings are enough to dazzle a viewer. This particular Cecropia is taking up residence in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.  I wish I knew more about this beautiful species. 

According to Wikipedia, differentiating between genders of this species is very easy. The most obvious difference is the plumrose antennae. Males possess a very bushy antenna while females will have  a moderately less bushy antenna. Females appear slightly larger in the abdomen due to the bulk of its many eggs. The abdomen of males appear more angular than that of the more rounded female abdomen.

Cecropia side view

Cecropia side view

Now the question is, is this moth male or female?  Look at this feathery antennae and yet the moth has a bulky abdomen.  I am guessing it is a female. 

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Caterpillar photo from Wikipedia.

 Be happy Insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

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4 Comments

  1. Summeryoung8@gmail.com said,

    June 11, 2012 at 3:05 am

    I found this today in Norman Oklahoma on the river today..he was stuck to my 4 wheeler… Can I raise him?

    • June 11, 2012 at 3:37 am

      Hi Summeryouth8,

      What an experience. I don’t know how you could raise the beautiful moth, unless you have the caterillar and could supply it with it’s host plants, which are “leaves of many trees and shrubs, including ash, birch, box elder, alder, elm, maple, poplar, wild cherry, plum, willow, apple, and lilac.” The cercopia moth does not eat. It’s only purpose it to mate. It only lives for a few weeks. It is a lot of work to raise the caterpillars according to http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/cecropiamoth.htm

      Here’s to you for caring and I hope this helps. Let me know how you make out.

  2. Greg said,

    May 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I think its a male
    http://insects.about.com/od/butterfliesmoths/p/Giant-Silkworm-Moths-And-Royal-Moths-Family-Saturniidae.htm
    Female Saturniid moths invite males to mate by releasing a sex pheromone from a special gland at the end of their abdomens. The male moths are renowned for their determination and unwavering focus on the task of locating the receptive female. They have a keen sense of smell, thanks to their feathery antennae brimming with sensilla.

    • May 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you Greg. I loved reading about female Saturniid moths and description of mating rites. Thank you for sharing. We learn something new everyday. I absolutely love giant silkworm moths especially the Luna and Cecropia moths. They are all so glorious in this family.


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