Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adventures with Cecropia

Friday morning(June8 th) presented us with a very interesting surprise. Several weeks ago while digging plum trees Bill came across a chrysalis on one branch. He cut it off and stuck it in a pot of soil on the end of our outdoor potting table. En route to pick up tools in the shed, I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. Lo and behold the chrysalis had a full fledged moth emerging. It was still clinging to the stick and remnants of the pupal sac, and gently opening and closing its wings.
I rushed to get my camera and took quite a few shots.

My brain didn’t clue in as to the species for awhile, but eventually Cecropia came to mind. Checking on internet images, that notion was reinforced. The species is Hyalophora cecropia.
It is one of the largest moths in North America.

It was quite interesting to note the typical moth characteristics. The heavy body, which we feel is indicative of a female; the feathery antenna, which upon some research also seem female-like.

This link has a very nice pictorial of the lifecycle, but I had to look long and hard to actually determine a usable comparison of the male and female antennae.
Most of the pictures were taken in the morning, but I went back in early evening to see if it was still there and took a few more.
I rotated the pot holding the stick and moth and was promptly “peed” upon, or so it seemed. I returned it to the original position and it shot another stream against the side of the shed.
We are wondering if this was some defense mechanism or the emitting of the pheromone stream done in the evening to lure a male mate.
The presumed “lady” was gone by Saturday morning. It would be nice to think she has a chance to mate and lay her eggs during her short life. It certainly had no toxic effects upon me, nor have I been deluged with would be suitors!