Cecropia Moth

Hyalophora cecropia

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The Cecropia Moth is North America’s largest native moth and is celebrated for its spectacular appearance. It belongs to the Saturniidae family, a group renowned for its impressive, often large moths.

Cecropia Moth

Common Name
Cecropia Moth

Latin Name

Hyalophora cecropia

Distribution

Found across the eastern and midwestern regions of North America, from the Rocky Mountains eastward through most of the US to the maritime provinces of Canada.

Appearance

Caterpillar: The larva is bright blue-green and adorned with tubercles that have spiky, silver-colored setae. Moth (not butterfly): The adult moth is a vivid blend of red, white, and brown with crescent-shaped white marks on the wings. The body is red with white bands, and the wings have eye-like patterns, helping deter potential predators.

Size

Moths can have a wingspan reaching 15 cm (6 inches) or more. Caterpillars can achieve lengths up to about 11 cm.

Habitat

Deciduous forests, urban gardens, and wooded suburbs.

Diet

Caterpillar: They feed on a variety of trees including maple, birch, cherry, and apple trees. Moth: The adult Cecropia Moth does not have a functional mouth and therefore does not eat. Their adult life is solely for reproduction.

Lifecycle

Standard for moths: egg → caterpillar (larva) → cocoon (pupa, which is spun in tree branches for Cecropia) → adult moth. Adults live only for about two weeks, focused entirely on reproduction.

Communication

Cecropia Moths primarily communicate through pheromones. The female releases pheromones to attract potential male mates.

Defense Mechanisms

Caterpillar: Bright coloration can signal potential toxicity or unpalatability to predators. Moth: The eye-like patterns on the wings serve to deter predators by either mimicking a larger animal’s eyes or by startling the predator.

Ecological Importance

They play roles as part of the food chain, serving as prey for several species, and their caterpillars help in controlling the growth of their host plants.

Conservation Status

The Cecropia Moth is not classified as endangered or threatened, though it may face threats from habitat loss and parasitism.
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