Monday, June 15, 2009

A Myth is a female Moth...

A little over a month ago, Josiah and Christianna saw a large, long, brown cocoon attached to the underside of our wooden playset in our back yard. After examining it, I identified it as the cocoon of a Cecropia Moth. As the days got warmer and moved into June, we kept a close eye on it, and one morning I was delighted to find the newly emerged Cecropia on the boards below the cocoon.

Cecropia Moths are one of the largest of the Giant Silk Moths that can be found in North America. They have a wingspan of 5-6 inches across! Giant Silk Moths are amazing in that the adult moths do not have mouths and cannot eat. They only live for 6-8 days and during that time (hopefully) they will attract a mate, and the females will lay eggs. The Cecropia also has only one generation per year, so the eggs that hatch this summer will grow and make their cocoons in fall, then stay in them all winter before coming out next spring as adults!

I was happy to find that we had a female Cecropia, because then we could try to have her attract a male and collect some of her eggs to raise the caterpillars. Female Cecropia Moths have larger bodies and smaller antennae than males.

The second night after putting our Cecropia out in a wire cage at night, she attracted a lovely male. They stayed together all the next day, separating just before dark.

Here you can see the male's larger antennae.

After releasing the male, I placed the female Cecropia in a paper bag for the night, and by morning she had laid nearly 200 eggs on the sides and bottom of the bag! I released her the following night to finish laying eggs in the wild.

Now we are waiting for the eggs to hatch, and then our adventure of raising the caterpillars will begin. Stay tuned for further updates!

An added bonus last week was being able to see a male Luna Moth who had landed on our neighbors' porch screen.

The Giant Silk Moths are another example of our Creator's awesome power and design!