Thursday, June 30, 2011

North America's Largest Native Moth

When Gretel told me there was a huge butterfly in the yard, I asked her if she was sure it wasn't a bird.  She didn't think my comment was very funny either.  I'm glad she convinced me to look for it with her, as I observed (and recorded for you) my first sighting of North America's largest native moth species: Hyalophora Cecropia, or the Cecropia Moth.

This female's wings stood off the tree about 3.5 inches, which means her wingspan was probably close to 7 inches.  Her abdomen was huge, and probably full of eggs.  We noticed a cocoon-like structure on the tree a few feet below her, so she may have emerged shortly before Gretel found her.  Wikipedia claims the lifespan of these moths is only 7 to 10 days, so we consider ourselves fortunate to have witnessed her appearance.

This is the only shot I have of her wings hesitantly spread slightly so I could see the markings on the back side.  This shot was helpful in identifying the species, even if it is out of focus.  I don't suppose we'll have another chance to spot this female, or the males she attracts, but we'll keep our eyes open nonetheless.


  1. Wow, amazing shots of this incredible moth.


  2. All you have to do is call it...

  3. my kids will be very envious - they've been looking for one for years - - -

  4. wowsers.... that is amazing! When Noah was at camp last year he reported that they regularly saw luna moths which are also large... but this one absolutely dwarfs (dwarves?) the luna. So glad you were able to get pictures☺

  5. Victoria -- it was so large it was kinda creepy

    Jeremy -- I'll trust your expertise in these matters

    Kaisers -- maybe you need to look around our neighborhood next year. Philip Steiner told me he spotted this species in another spot when he was mowing the Blisses yard, so there may have been two around here!

    Diane -- if Noah ever wants to hunt Cecopias he's welcome to come to our house!

  6. I went to see the youtube vid that Jeremy posted....drat, his account was closed by Youtube. ;(