Glover’s Silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia gloveri) is a fascinating species of moths known for its striking appearance and unique life cycle. These moths belong to the family Saturniidae and can be found across different parts of the United States, including Montana. In this article, we will explore some fascinating aspects of this intriguing creature.
As we dive into the world of Glover’s Silkmoth, we will delve into its life stages, from the eggs laid by the females to the solitary feeding habits of the larvae. This moth is known for spinning compact cocoons near the ground, often on host plant trunks or stems, or thick undergrowth. Understanding the specific features and characteristics of Glover’s Silkmoth can help us appreciate their role in the ecosystem.
Some notable characteristics of Glover’s Silkmoth include:
- Large, distinct wings
- Feathery antennae
- Intricate patterns and colors
- Unique cocoon-spinning behavior
Identification and Taxonomy
Scientific Name and Classification
The Glover’s Silkmoth is a subspecies of the moths belonging to the genus Hyalophora. Its scientific name is Hyalophora columbia gloveri. This moth falls under the kingdom Animalia, phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, and family Saturniidae.
Glover’s Silkmoth is a large moth with distinct features:
- Colorful and patterned wings
- Wingspan ranging from 3 to 5 inches
- Fuzzy appearance
Range and Habitat
The moth is found across:
- North America
It prefers habitats such as forests and wooded areas where its host plants like larch, leaves, and twigs are abundant.
Here is a comparison table for Hyalophora columbia gloveri and its close relative Hyalophora cecropia:
|Hyalophora columbia gloveri
|3 to 5 inches wingspan
|5 to 6 inches wingspan
|Forests, wooded areas
|Forests, near rivers and parks
|Colorful and patterned wings
|Red and black banding patterns
Overall, the Glover’s Silkmoth is unique in its physical appearance and occupies a specific range across North America. Its classification helps scientists unravel its place within the diverse world of moths.
Life Cycle and Behavior
Stages of Development
Glover’s silkmoth (Hyalophora cecropia) goes through four main stages in its life cycle: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and adult. The development process typically starts in spring and ends in fall.
- Eggs: Laid in April, hatching in 10-14 days
- Larvae (Caterpillars): Grow and change color during development
- Pupa: After growing, caterpillars spin cocoons for pupation
- Adults: Emerge from cocoons in September
Caterpillars feed on various woody plants, including:
- Buffalo berry (Shepherdia argentea)
- Wild roses
- Other trees and shrubs
Adult moths have a reduced ability to feed due to their short lifespans.
Reproduction and Brood
Mating occurs shortly after adults emerge from their cocoons, with female moths releasing pheromones to attract males. After mating, females lay their eggs on suitable host plants for the larvae to feed upon.
|Range: Great Plains to Montana
|Range: Rocky Mountains to Central Mexico
|Hindwing patterns: Green, yellow, and white
|Hindwing patterns: Brown and white
Glover’s silkmoth is part of the family Saturniidae, which also includes other well-known moths like the cecropia moth. These moths generally inhabit riparian and woodland habitats. Their beautiful forewings and hindwings make them stand out among butterflies and moths alike. Adults have a short flight period due to their brief life cycle, spanning from spring to fall.
Host Plants and Environmental Interactions
Common Host Plants
The Glover’s Silkmoth (Hyalophora gloveri) typically feeds on a variety of host plants. Some common host plants include:
- Willow (Salix) [^1^]
- Birch (Betula) [^2^]
- Larch (Larix) [^3^]
- Chokecherry (Prunus) [^4^]
- Alder (Alnus) [^5^]
- Ceanothus [^6^]
These plants provide essential nutrients for the development of the Glover’s Silkmoth caterpillars.
Associated Species and Predators
Glover’s Silkmoth belongs to the Saturniidae family and is closely related to other species like the Cecropia moth. In its natural habitat, the Glover’s Silkmoth can encounter various associated species and predators. Some examples include:
- Bitterbrush (Purshia)
- Russian olive (Elaeagnus)
- Currant (Ribes)
- Lilac (Syringa)
Aside from plants, Glover’s Silkmoth coexists with several animal species within its ecosystem. Predators such as birds and parasitic wasps often prey on the silkmoth’s caterpillars, reducing their population.
In summary, the Glover’s Silkmoth thrives in various host plants and shares its environment with multiple associated species and predators. Understanding these intricate relationships is crucial for conservation efforts and maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Glover's Silkmoth Caterpillar
Fat, Green Worm
January 23, 2010
We came across this while camping near Lehman Caves at the Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada in the Summer of 2006.
Great Basin National Park in Nevada
Hi again Tyson,
This is a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the genus Hyalophora. The likeliest candidate in our opinion is Glover’s Silkmoth, Hyalophora columbia gloveri. We are unable to link to BugGuide this morning, but we did locate an image on the Butterflies and Moths of Arizona website.
Letter 2 – Glover's Silkmoth
My son works at a golf course in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he photographed this beautiful moth. What is it?
Signed, Fascinated by the lovely bug.
This is a Columbia Silkmoth or Glover’s Silkmoth, two subspecies of Hyalophora columbia. We are not skilled enough to tell which subspecies this really is.
The Hyalophora from Sun Valley, Idaho, is Glover’s, Hyalophora columbia gloveri … H. columbia columbia flies further north and east of both the moths depicted. There are state by state checklists on the WLSS. For $40.00 it is an amazing reference.
Letter 3 – Glover’s Silkmoth
Subject: Big Moth
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
February 26, 2014 12:36 pm
My co-worker and I saw this moth on the ground and I was amazed at the size. Just curious as to what it is and is it native to central Arizona (Prescott Valley).
Signature: Dave Eagling
Letter 4 – Glover’s Silkmoth
Subject: sphinx moth
Location: NW Wyoming
July 6, 2014 9:33 pm
Dear bugman, I took this photo back in 2007 and have always called this moth a sphinx moth. Recently I’ve come to realize that spinx moth encompasses a very large number of varieties. Is this a sphinx moth and if so, what variety?
This is not a Sphinx Moth, but rather a Giant Silkmoth in the family Sphingidae, more specifically a Glover’s Silkmoth, Hyalophora columbia gloveri, which is a subspecies of the Columbia Silkmoth. You can verify our identification on BugGuide. The feathery antennae indicate that this is a male who uses his sensitive antennae to search for a mate by following the pheromones she releases.