Subject: Cecropia Moth
Location: Lompoc, California
April 14, 2017 2:24 pm
We found one of these moths, figured out the name through your page, but it doesn’t seem to want to fly away. We noticed these egg looking things on its body. What are they? Should we keep it safe in a terrarium? If so, what do they eat?
Thanks for your help!
Though this resembles a Cecropia Moth, that is an eastern species and this is a western relative, the Ceanothus Silkmoth. Male Giant Silkmoths have more feathery antennae as that is the scent organ that allows him to locate a female through the pheromones she releases, so we believe this individual is a female. Giant Silkmoths do not feed as adults, and they live for about a week on stored body fat. Flying takes energy, and a female filled with eggs is much heavier, so she is reluctant to fly unnecessarily. Often a newly emerged female will release some unfertilized eggs before attempting to fly, and we suspect that is what you have documented in your image. Though the eggs pictured on Liang Insects are more brown, it is possible that freshly laid eggs are lighter in color. If you keep her in a terrarium, make sure it has a screen lid. She may attract a mate. You might want to consider releasing her and letting nature take its course. Again, she cannot eat.
Ed. Note: Since Ceanothus Silkmoths are currently in flight on the west coast, we will feature this posting for a spell.