Subject: Moth Pupa?
Location: Central Virginia
February 24, 2017 5:36 am
Hello, Bugman! Been a big fan of your site for several years now, friend in my Master Gardners group told me about your site. Great work you are doing!
I found this gigantic pupa on the ground after pruning some Mountain Laurel on our mountainside. (We live outside Stanardsville, VA, about 8 miles from the Skyline Drive. THout it was dog poop until I looked closer, touched it and it wiggles! I put it in a big jar and put it back outside on the porch. We are having a few warm days, but expect more cold weather befor Spring arrives (today is Feb.24, 2017). I’ve looked at your photos of the Luna and Polyphemus moths, but mine doesn’t resemble them. What do you think it is?
Signature: Ann P.
We believe you searched the correct family, but not the correct species. We believe this is an Imperial Moth Pupa, and the adult Imperial Moth is a lovely yellow and purple creature. According to Featured Creatures, one listed host plant is “Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees sassafras Lauraceae” and since the family is the same as Mountain Laurel, that may also be a host plant, though we are having trouble confirming that suspicion at this time. Perhaps one of the well recognized host plants are also in the vicinity. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on leaves of Bald Cypress, basswood, birch, cedar, elm, hickory, Honeylocust, maple, oak, pine, Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), sycamore, walnut.” You might want to consider returning the pupa to the safety of the leaf litter where you found it, though allowing the adult to emerge in captivity might be a wondrous experience for you. We would urge you to keep it in a sheltered location not influenced by artificial temperatures. Thanks for your kind words regarding our humble site.
Thanks for such a prompt response! I will certainly return the pupa to where I found it. I’d much rather it have a normal life! I can now find a photo of what it will become. Again, thanks for your ongoing hard work and help for those of us who have a love of nature and the wonders around us every day… when we can take a few moments to take a closer look at what we find and have a resource like yours to find answers to our questions. All best wishes for continued success! A.