Exhibits

OBJECT OF THE MONTH - February, 2004

The Cercropia Moth (Hyalphora cercropia)

Two specimens of the Cecropia moth (). Top: male with a 10.8 cm (4.25 inch) wingspan collected in Colorado in 1937. Bottom: female with a 14.5 cm (5.75 inch) wingspan (no collection data).

This impressive moth is one of the most readily recognized moths in North This impressive moth is one of the most readily recognized moths in North America. It was named by Linnaeus in 1758. It occurs throughout east and central North America, west to the Rocky Mountains. The wingspan of the adult moth may reach 13-16cm (5-6 inches) across.

Each Cecropia starts out as a little beadlike brown egg about 2mm (0.8 inches) round. It hatches into a small larva that feeds on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs including box elder, sugar maple, cherry, plum, apple, alder, birch, dogwood, and willow. After about a month of feeding, the roughly 10 cm (4 inches) long green caterpillar armed with colorful spiny knobs spins an elongate cocoon attached lengthwise to a branch. The following summer the adult moth emerges from its cocoon. The adult moth does not feed and lives for only a couple of weeks.
 
Cecropia moths are attracted to lights and can sometimes be found in the morning near porch lights. Females tend to be larger than males and have thinner, less feathery antennae. The smaller males have very plumose (feathery) antennae which they use to pick up pheromones (chemicals) released by the females in order to locate a mate. If you see a female and want to see males too, you can detain the female in your house for a day and put her inside a screened open window the following night (keep pets and children away). Males will often be attracted to the pheromones released by the females.America. It was named by Linnaeus in 1758. It occurs throughout east and central North America, west to the Rocky Mountains. The wingspan of the adult moth may reach 13-16cm (5-6 inches) across.
 
Each Cecropia starts out as alittle beadlike brown egg about 2mm (0.8 inches) round. It hatches into a small larva that feeds on a variety of deciduous trees and shrubs including box elder, sugar maple, cherry, plum, apple, alder, birch, dogwood, and willow. After about a month of feeding, the roughly 10 cm (4 inches) long green caterpillar armed with colorful spiny knobs spins an elongate cocoon attached lengthwise to a branch. The following summer the adult moth emerges from its cocoon. The adult moth does not feed and lives for only a couple of weeks.
 
Cecropia moths are attracted to lights and can sometimes be found in the morning near porch lights. Females tend to be larger than males and have thinner, less feathery antennae. The smaller males have very plumose (feathery) antennae which they use to pick up pheromones (chemicals) released by the females in order to locate a mate. If you see a female and want to see males too, you can detain the female in your house for a day and put her inside a screened open window the following night (keep pets and children away). Males will often be attracted to the pheromones released by the females.
 
If you would like to learn more about moths, view the exhibit website for Moth Matters: With Images by Joseph Scheer. You will never see moths the same way again!