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Cecropia Silk Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Cecropia Silk Moth



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Image Credit: Sherri W. from Eastpoint, FL
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Image Credit: Joyce L. from Brownington, VT
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Image Credit: Carolyn F., taken near Plain, WI
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Image Credit: Kim A. from New Bern, NC
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Image Credit: John from TN
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Image Credit: Amanda W.
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Image Credit: Carolyn F., taken near Plain, WI
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Image Credit: Donna A.
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Image Credit: Nancy K.
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Image Credit: Gail from Lake City, FL
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In addition to its remarkable size, North America's largest native moth, boasts brilliant colors, distinctive patterns, and curvy shapes.



Updated: 06/21/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Saturniidae
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          Genus: Hyalophora
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            Species: cecropia
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hyalophora cecropia
Other Name(s): Cecropia Moth; Robin Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 110mm to 150mm (4.33" to 5.90")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, gray, white, black, blue, ivory, rust
Descriptors: large, eyespots, flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 110mm (4.3in) and 150mm (5.9in)
Lo: 110mm
Md: 130mm
Hi: 150mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Cecropia Silk Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Cecropia Silk Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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