Salmonsaladsandwich Posted January 25, 2015 Share Posted January 25, 2015 I thought i needed to introduce anyone on this forum who's into giant silk moths, or lepidopterans in general, to my favorite species. There won't be any pictures, but a quick google search will demonstrate what I'm talking about. They definitely aren't the biggest or most spectacular native silk moth, and arguably not the most beautiful, but they have an interesting life history, very attractive caterpillars, and are easier to raise than cecropias and other larger species. When the caterpillars are younger, through the first two molts, they are striped with black, white and yellow and feed in clusters. Some people say they mimic monarch caterpillars, but i doubt that. i think they resemble poisonous Grapeleaf Skeletonizers. After their third molt, they become a powdery whitish- blue color and develop bright yellow knobs (sort of like cecropias) on their thorax and anterior. The knobs have little bristles on them. I can't imagine what object in nature they are meant to look like at this stage, although their color does sort of match the undersides of sassafras leaves. (sassafras is a host plant.) After molting a fourth time, they either stay the same or the knobs turn varying shades of orange. and at the fifth and final molt, they become more green and less whitish blue and the knobs turn bright red and smooth, with no bristles. i guess the knobs look kind of like cherry spindle galls. (black cherry is their favorite host plant.) The cocoon is small and thin, and stays on the tree all winter because the caterpillar spins silk on the petiole of the leaf it wraps around its cocoon. When the adults emerge, they are fairly small as far as silk moths go- usually not larger than 3 inches across. My favorite part about them is how dimorphic they are: the females are sort of a reddish brown color, like a terracotta flowerpot, and have patterns similar to the cecropia moth. The males, on the other hand, are a dark velvety black with cream colored wing margins. But the best part is that when you mate them, the males that smell the female arrive in the middle of the afternoon! You get to see wild moths in flight, sometimes dozens, at around 4:00 pm, a much more convenient hour than for cecropias. (about 4 am.) The males apparently mimic poisonous pipeline swallowtails. Anyway, i believe that every moth enthusiast must try this species sooner or later! Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.