cecropia moth

(Hyalophora cecropia)

cecropia moth
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  Hodges #

7767

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Cecropia moth is a common, extra large, giant silkworm moth. It is one of the two largest moths native to North America. The number of cecropia moths has decreased in recent decades due to parasitism of a tachinid fly (Compsilura concinnata). The fly was introduced into North America in 1906 in an attempt to control the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar).

Adults have a wingspan of 45 16 to 5.

The thorax is red above with a conspicuous white collar. The white collar is the forward apex of a broad, white, lateral stripe that extends from the thorax to the last abdominal segment.

Each abdominal segment is red, outlined with a thin black line; has a fringe of white hairs at the end; and has a red spot in each lateral stripe.

The wings are dark brown, gray, and blackish with numerous white scales giving them a frosted appearance. The basal area of the forewing has at least some red shading and is bordered with a thin white and a thin black antemedial line. Both wings have red shading outside a strong white postmedian line. The forewing has a crescent-shaped spot in the median area near the leading edge. Each hindwing has a crescent-shaped spot near the outer margin of the discal cell. All four spots are red fading to white in the center and outlined with black. There is an eyespot in the subapical area near the tip of the forewing.

The head is red. There are no mouth parts and no hearing organs. The eyes are large and black. The antennae are feather-like and have branches on both sides of the central axis.

The legs are red.

Females have smaller, less bushy antennae and larger, more rounded abdomens.

The caterpillar is frosted green and up to 4 long. There is a pair of prominent knobs in the dorsal area on thoracic segments 2 and 3 (T2 and T3) and on abdominal segments 1 through 7 (A1–A7). Abdominal segment 8 (A8) has a single dorsal knob. The dorsal knobs on T2, T3, and A1 are more or less globe shaped and have several tufts of minute black spines (spinules). The dorsal knobs on A2–A8 are elongated and cylindrical. The dorsal knobs on T2 and T3 are yellowish-orange. Those on T3 and A1–A7 are bright yellow. There is also a solitary knob in the subdorsal and spiracular areas of T1–T3 and A1–A8, and in the subspiracular area of T1 through T3. These knobs are pale blue and rise from a pale blue base. The leg-like structures (prolegs) on the abdomen are yellowish-green at the base and greenish-yellow at the tip. Mature caterpillars can be found from late June through August.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 45 16 to 5

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
  Columbia silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia) is a similar species found mostly in the western half of North America. The area outside the postmedian band is gray and does not have any red shading. The crescent spots are white, not red fading to white. On the caterpillar, the dorsal knobs are yellowish-white to yellowish-pink, not bright yellow. The lateral knobs are more white and emerge from black bases.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Woodlands, forests, fencerows, and suburbs

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Late May to early August

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

When the adult is at rest the wings are open and flat.

Adults are nocturnal, taking flight a few hours after sunset. They are attracted to lights.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

This moth is short-lived, lasting about two weeks, since it has no mouth parts and does not feed. There is one generation per year. The male uses its specialized antennae to detect pheromones released by the female. After breeding, the female lays a group of 3 to 30 large, somewhat flattened eggs in lines (rafts) of 3 to 10 eggs each on either side of a leaf of a host shrub or tree. The eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days and the newly emerged larvae begin feeding in groups on the leaves. Older caterpillars are solitary feeders. The larvae molt 5 or 6 times. In the fall the caterpillar spins a cocoon in which it will spend the winter. The cocoon is large and spindle-shaped. It is attached along its full length to a twig in a dark, protected area. The adult emerges in the spring.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Deciduous trees and shrubs including apple, ash, boxelder, cherry, poplar, willow, birch, elm, tamarack, and maple.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Adults do not feed.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 29, 30, 75.

 
  6/20/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Bombycoidea (hawk-moths)  
 

No Rank

Saturniiformes  
  Family Saturniidae (giant silkworm and royal moths)  
 

Subfamily

Saturniinae  
 

Tribe

Attacini  
 

Genus

Hyalophora  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

cecropia moth

cecropia silkmoth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Proleg

A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.

 

Spinule

Minute spines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
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Stephanie Davis

 
 

This moth landed on out front steps and has been hanging out all day

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Ron Cram

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Nathan Johnson

 
 

On our deck hanging out on my kids little tikes grill

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Ali Kay

 
  My husband was on the roof cleaning off the gutters when he saw the chrysalis. We put it in a safe spot until she hatched. She hatched, and not even 5 hours later was there a male attached to her. We watched it all happen. And we have the males body as a keepsake.   cecropia moth  
 

Cheryl Esterbrooks

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Heidi

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Elizabeth A

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Amy E.

 
 

Found this one the evening of 7/2 in Canby.

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Norm & Peg Dibble

 
  Hanging out on our garage brick front where she? matched the colors. So exciting!   cecropia moth  
           
        cecropia moth  
 

Anne Kane

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Rachel

 
 

Beautiful, hung out on this shovel handle all day

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Shawna Stuber

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth      
 

Jaimee

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Heather D.

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Valerie Torgerson

 
 

Found in backyard. Huge!

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Sara Emmerich

 
  Found on side of my home in mid June. Approximate 6" wingspan. Really interesting, fuzzy body, large antenna. Was amazed by the snake like camouflage.   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth      
 

LaVonne Redding

 
 

On the outside wall at our local Dollar General.

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Becky DLC

 
  Has been sitting on the side of our garage for 3 days. Sometimes its wings are folded, other times fully open. Beautiful!   cecropia moth  
 

Marilyn Juhl

 
    cecropia moth      
 

JBalonis

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Grace and Molly Jacobs

 
  this one was caught in the rain and couldn’t fly. Will release when quits raining   cecropia moth  
 

Corryn T

 
  A cool sighting in Lake of the Woods County! It's a good year for butterflies and moths up here.   cecropia moth  
 

Theresa Zaske

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Trisha S.

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Nicole Feehery

 
  2 cocoons and a moth hanging in the vines by my blooming apple tree this year!   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth      
 

Michelle Shores

 
 

Caterpillar

Could it be that it may have hitch-hiked here on a small Maple tree my friend recieved from a fellow friend in Perham?? Saw it on the sidewalk.

  cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Kristi Buysse

 
 

Found dead specimen in my fruit orchard.

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Janet Jones

 
 

gorgeous

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Amy

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Barb Maus

 
 

Drying out after overnight rain.

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
 

Brad

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Jenny

 
  was on pavement of entranceway. Wings were not laid flat. Was windy outside and moth looked like it was struggling for stability due to wind. Put my finger out and moth crawled into my hand and sat there. Then it started to crawl and wiggled its forelegs bicycle style like it was letting me know it was ready to fly. It flew off and landed on a tall broad leaved deciduous landscaped shrub. Abdomen was very round...thinking it might have been a female?   cecropia moth  
           
        cecropia moth  
 

Megan MacFarlane

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Todd Jacobson

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Adele Dahm

 
    cecropia moth   cecropia moth  
           
    cecropia moth      
 

Melody

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Beth Chihak

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Marie Hlava

 
 

Seen about 415am

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Angee

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Joanne

 
    cecropia moth      
 

Bill Reynolds

 
 

This one had a wing span about 6 inches.

 
    cecropia moth      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Cecropia Moth - Hodges#7767 (Hyalophora cecropia)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Cecropia Moth - Hodges#7767 (Hyalophora cecropia)  
Hyalophora cecropia (Cecropia Moth)
Allen Chartier
  Hyalophora cecropia (Cecropia Moth)  
Cecropia Moth Cocoon Emergence: of Challenge and Change, Pt3.
David Britton
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 25, 2010

Cecropia moth emergence from a cocoon is detailed. Watch a pupa change color as it awakes from diapause and prepares to eclose as a moth. Witness how little flabby pads are transformed into large beautiful wings suitable for flight. See mating and propagation followed by recycling.

This video is part of a full complete metamorphosis lifecycle edition. To see more go to http://lifecycle.onenessbecomesus.com

 
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

Barb Maus

 
  Cecropia moth 01
Published on Jun 19, 2018
 
   
 
About

Published 6/19/2018

Drying out after overnight rain.

   
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Giant Cecropia Moth
Kimberly Pineda
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 17, 2012

The Cecropia Moth is native to North America but rarely seen. The wings are about 6.5" on this moth. It was found near Port Stanley, ON in the garden. Research indicates this moth does not have a mouth once the metamorphosis from caterpillar to moth takes place. Its purpose is solely to reproduce. A very cool discovery!

 
  Hyalophora cecropia Moth Lifecycle
LOBAM!
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Apr 28, 2011

Hyalophora cecropia Moth Lifecycle

 
  Cecropia Moth Caterpillar
NCJAVIDEO
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 7, 2009

9-7-2009 Video of a Cecropia Moth Caterpillar found outside Asheville, NC. These amazing caterpillars are over 4 inches long and become the largest moths in North America. They spin large brown cocoons that weather to gray. The moths take flight in May or June. There is one generation per year.

 
  Cecropia Moth Cocoon Cut Open and the Pupa Removed
floridabutterflyfarm
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 22, 2011

A Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) cocoon can be cut open and the pupa removed without harming the moth inside. A cocoon is a silk 'sleeping bag' made by the caterpillar. Inside the cocoon, over the next few days the caterpillar pupates into a pupa. The pupa is simply the caterpillar without its skin - it literally wiggles out of its skin.

The cocoon can be cut open, the pupa removed, and the moth will emerge without problem. Popular opinion is wrong - it doesn't need to strengthen itself with the struggle to emerge from the cocoon. The cocoon is simply a 'nest' that protects the pupa from many (but not all) predators.

In this video, we cut open a Cecropia Silk Moth cocoon and take out the pupa. The abdomen of the pupa is flexible, the abdominal segments move back and forth easily. If the pupa is dead, the segments freeze into place and they cannot be moved.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Susan and Ron
Cram

6/28/2021

Location: Pipestone, MN

spotted mating pair on trail

 

 
  Stephanie Davis
6/21/2021

Location: Champlin, Mn.

This moth landed on out front steps and has been hanging out all day

cecropia moth

 
  MothSpotter2020
6/25/2020

Location: Forest Lake, MN

This moth was found at the base of the street light in our neighborhood a couple hours before sunset.

  Ron Cram
6/24/2020

Location: Canby MN, Yellow Medicine County

cecropia moth

 
  Ali Kay
6/19/2020

Location: Edina, Minnesota

My husband was on the roof cleaning off the gutters when he saw the chrysalis. We put it in a safe spot until she hatched. She hatched, and not even 5 hours later was there a male attached to her. We watched it all happen. And we have the males body as a keepsake.

cecropia moth

 
  Cheryl Esterbrooks
6/16/2020

Location: Knife River, Minnesota

cecropia moth

 
  Heidi
7/9/2019

Location: Lyon County Courthouse

cecropia moth

 
  aghartz
7/12/2019

Location: Aalpha, MN , Jackson County

Beautiful. I have never seen one before and have lived on this farm for 25 years.

  Elizabeth A
7/8/2019

Location: Victoria, MN. Rhapsody neighborhood!

cecropia moth

 
  Amy E.
7/4/2019

Location: Canby, MN

Found this one the evening of 7/2 in Canby.

cecropia moth

 
  Chris M.
7/3/2019

Location: Apple valley, MN

  Norm & Peg Dibble
7/2/2019

Location: Maple Grove, MN

Gorgeous, never saw one that we remember.

cecropia moth

 
  Steve Sandberg
6/30/2019

Location: Champlin, MN

  Anne Kane
7/1/2019

Location: White Bear Lake, Ramsey County

cecropia moth

 
  Rachel
6/30/2019

Location: Morton, MN

Beautiful, hung out on this shovel handle all day

cecropia moth

 
  Shawna Stuber
6/30/2019

Location: Litchfield Minnesota, Meeker County

cecropia moth

 
  Jaimee
6/29/2019

Location: Bemidji, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Heather D.
6/28/2019

Location: Wright County, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Valerie Torgerson
6/26/2019

Location: Spring Grove, MN

Found in backyard. Huge!

cecropia moth

 
  Sara Emmerich
6/25/2019

Location: Cedar, MN

Found on side of my home in mid June. Approximate 6" wingspan. Really interesting, fuzzy body, large antenna. Was amazed by the snake like camouflage.

cecropia moth

 
  Grace and Molly Jacobs
6/24/2019

Location: Springfield, MN

this one was caught in the rain and couldn’t fly. Will release when quits raining

cecropia moth

 
  JBalonis
6/24/2019

Location: Goodview, Mn

cecropia moth

 
  Marilyn Juhl
6/24/2019

Location: Centerville, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Becky DLC
6/24/2019

Location: Minnetonka, MN

Has been sitting on the side of our garage for 3 days. Sometimes its wings are folded, other times fully open. Beautiful!

cecropia moth

 
  Corryn T
6/21/2019

Location: Baudette, MN

A cool sighting in Lake of the Woods County! It's a good year for butterflies and moths up here.

cecropia moth

 
  tfarland
6/21/2019

Location: New Hope

found a pair mating on the bush in front of our house.

  Theresa Zaske
6/17/2019

Location: Marshall, Minnesota (Lyon County)

cloudy day, about 62 outside. It was sitting on the sidewalk. Beautiful.

cecropia moth

 
  Trisha S.
6/16/2019

Location: Douglas County

cecropia moth

 
  LaVonne
Redding

6/14/2019

Location: Barnesville, MN

On the outside wall at our local Dollar General.

cecropia moth

 
  Nicole Feehery
6/8/2019

Location: Duluth, MN 55807 (St Louis County)

2 cocoons and a moth hanging in the vines by my blooming apple tree this year!

cecropia moth

 
  Sheryl Erickson
6/8/2019

Location: S. Minneapolis 4 blocks south of Minnehaha Creek

beautiful and amazing

  Michelle Shores
8/24/2018

Location: Osakis, MN

Could it be that it may have hitch-hiked here on a small Maple tree my friend recieved from a fellow friend in Perham?? Saw it on the sidewalk.

cecropia moth

 
  Janet Jones
6/27/2018

Location: Renvile County, MN

Found dead specimen in my fruit orchard.

cecropia moth

 
  Kristi Buysse
6/27/2018

Location: Apple orchard on farm near Franklin, MN

Wingspan over 6 inches. Mulberries plentiful this year. Beautiful!

  Janet Jones
6/21/2018

Location: South Minneapolis near Minnehaha Creek

gorgeous

cecropia moth

 
  Dave H.
6/19/2018

Location: Elk River

  Doug Roller
6/20/2018

Location: spring valley mn

  Amy
6/19/2018

Location: Garden City, MN, Blue Earth County

cecropia moth

 
  Barb Maus
6/19/2018

Location: Rollingstone, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Brad
6/18/2018

Location: SW Rochester, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Jenny
6/18/2018

Location: outside Century College, White Bear Lake MN

was on pavement of entranceway. Wings were not laid flat. Was windy outside and moth looked like it was struggling for stability due to wind. Put my finger out and moth crawled into my hand and sat there. Then it started to crawl and wiggled its forelegs bicycle style like it was letting me know it was ready to fly. It flew off and landed on a tall broad leaved deciduous landscaped shrub. Abdomen was very round...thinking it might have been a female?

cecropia moth

 
  Megan MacFarlane
6/18/2018

Location: outside Joann Fabrics in the Ridgedale Center parking lot 

cecropia moth

 
  Jonathan
Mathes

6/18/2018

Location: Golden Valley

Beautiful moth attracted to my Honeysuckle vine currently in full bloom. Also attracted to my porch light so I turned it off and this gorgeous specimen flew away, hopefullly to mate.

  Petra Fager
6/14/2018

Location: Johnsville area of Blaine

on a maple tree

  Jason
5/29/2018

Location: Onamia

Wingspan of 5-5 1/2”

  Terry Jandt
6/30/2017

Location: Downtown New Prague , mn

  Adele Dahm
6/12/2017

Location: Elk River

cecropia moth

 
  Todd Jacobson
6/4/2017

Location: Buffalo River State Park, Glyndon, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Melody
6/3/2017

Location: Aitkin, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Beth Chihak
6/23/2016

Location: Olmsted County

cecropia moth

 
  Marie Hlava
6/16/2016

Location: Kwik Trip Pine Island MN

Seen about 415am

cecropia moth

 
  Angee
6/8/2016

Location: Brooklyn Center, MN

cecropia moth

 
  Joanne
5/26/2016

Location: Pine City

cecropia moth

 
  Carol
9/24/2015

Location: Rochester, MN

  Libby
6/20/2015

Location: Edina, Mn

  Todd
6/14/2014

Location: Oakdale, Mn

           
 
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