Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Robin Moth In Our Own Front Yard!

We love finding odd or unusual critters in our yard.  The other day, my middle man spotted this beautiful moth on the trunk of a dogwood tree. moth 2I must have taken a thousand pictures of it! I just couldn’t get over how BIG its body was (easily two of my thumbs wide!)   Or how furry!  Or colorful! 

Or beautiful!

moth 4

I came in and looked it up online.  As far as I can tell, it is a Cecropia Silkmoth, North America’s largest silkmoth, commonly called the Robin moth

In my research, I found a few interesting facts. 

Did you know…

  • The adults do not feed.  (We were wondering what they ate as we were taking pictures.) Once they reach the moth stage, they live only long enough to mate and lay eggs and then die. They actually have only rudimentary mouth parts.
  • In a few weeks, the eggs, laid on the favored food plant, hatch out into their caterpillar form (silk worm).
  • The caterpillars feed fore several weeks, then spin silky cocoons on twigs.  They then spend the Winter maturing and waiting to emerge as beautiful moths in the spring or early summer.  So there is only one generation per year to come out.
  • Host trees include box elders, sugar maples, wild cherries and plums, apples, alder and birch, dogwoods, and willows.
  • They range from Maine to Florida, and from the eastern United States to the Rocky Mountains.
  • The population of these moths is actually very secure.  You just rarely see one! 

moth 5The day after we spotted our moth, I sat down to write this post.  And I got to thinking…darn, I didn’t actually measure it to see how big it really was.  I wonder if it is still out there?

So I picked up my ruler and headed out to the dogwood tree. 

I looked around the base of the tree and was sad to see it had flown away. 

But as I was turning to go, I scanned the top of the small tree and did a double-take.  Our beautiful moth had simply flown to a higher perch. 

And she had company!  Lol! 

I say she, because (now that I could compare an obviously male and female couple), I could see that the newcomer was definitely the male.  He was smaller, and he had huge antennae (which I read could help him locate a female from up to a half mile away!!!)moth mamma 1

I didn’t want to disturb them.  However, I really wanted to get some pictures to compare the two. 

male and femaleNote the male on the left.  You can see that his antennae are noticeably wider.

Here he is up close.

male  Compared to the female, below. 

moth mamma

Still.  She was larger in every other way and definitely the beauty queen in my opinion.  She looked as soft as a newborn kitten!   :)   

In this last picture, you can kind of see how much larger she was.

size difference

I never did measure her.  Lol!  But she was as big as my hand spread wide.  Trust me.

God certainly created some beautiful creatures, didn’t He? 


Mari said...

That is so cool! I've never heard of it before, but what a pretty moth!

The Real Me! said...

Wow, that is pretty cool. I have never seen one of those before. They do look pretty big. I wouldn't want it landing on me or anything. Ha! Ha!
Thanks for sharing the information that you learned. It was very interesting.
Have a fabulous day my friend.

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

Whoa! She was huge! You were so lucky to get some pics of the two of them. Both very beautiful!

Keetha Broyles said...

That is one awesome moth!!