Cecropia Silk Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Cecropia Silk Moth.
Updated: 2/14/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
In addition to its remarkable size, North America's largest native moth, boasts brilliant colors, distinctive patterns, and curvy shapes.
The sheer magnitude of the Cecropia Silkmoth amazes observers. This native moth can cover the palm of a large hand with its generous wingspan of about 15 cm (~6 inches). The moth is brown near the hairy orange and white body and head. Each forewing and hindwing has an ivory mark ringed in orange and black in the center of this brown area. White and orange lines cross all the wings near the center. A large black and blue eyespot sits at the upper corner of each forewing. An ivory and beige border undulates along the edges. Legs are furry and bright red-orange.
Caterpillars have 5 instars, each with a slightly different appearance. Early caterpillars are completely black with black spiky hairs. They become pale with black hairs and dots. Later, they are green with yellow bumps with black spikes. Mature caterpillars are plump and fleshy with light blue thorns where the bumps used to be. A silk cocoon forms on the stem of a host plant and the magnificent winged adult emerges. Hosts include a variety of popular trees like maple, willow, oak,and pine as well as other flowering plants like honeysuckle. Threats to the population of Cecropia Moths include a parasite that eats caterpillars from the inside out, viral pathogens, as well as hungry squirrels, pollution, inadvertent insecticide poisoning, and habitat loss due to urbanization.