Explore the World of Glovers Silkmoth: A Quick Comprehensive Guide

folder_openInsecta, Lepidoptera
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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.

Physical Characteristics

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
  • Canada
  • Mexico

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:

Feature Hyalophora columbia gloveri Hyalophora cecropia
Size 3 to 5 inches wingspan 5 to 6 inches wingspan
Habitat Forests, wooded areas Forests, near rivers and parks
Coloration 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

Feeding Habits

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.

Glover’s Silkmoth Columbia Silkmoth
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.

Reader Emails

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.
Tyson Cramer
Great Basin National Park in Nevada

Glover’s Silkmoth Caterpillar

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

wierd moth
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.

Hi Fascinated,
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.

Update: (03/21/2008)
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.
Bill Oehlke

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

Glover's Silkmoth
Glover’s Silkmoth

Dear Dave,
This Glover’s Silkmoth,
Hyalophora columbia gloveri, is a western subspecies.  You can read more on BugGuide.

Glover's Silkmoth
Glover’s Silkmoth

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?
Signature: Jeff

Glover's Silkmoth
Glover’s Silkmoth

Dear Jeff,
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.

Glover's Silkmoth
Glover’s Silkmoth


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Silkmoths

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7 Comments. Leave new

  • Susan Kranz
    May 29, 2014 5:35 pm

    I saw a Columbia Silk moth today at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, during a time when we had 2nd grade elementary students up for a field trip. We were also doing a game regarding the migrating of Monarch Butterflies. This moth had perfect timing and was just sitting on the sidewalk for one of the activities. A chickadee even tried to eat it, then he/she flew away. I knew about sphinx moths, but had never seen this moth before. Beautiful and so large!

    • We are so glad to hear of your educational field trip and the bounties of nature you witnessed.

  • Found one of these huge caterpillars in the backyard today, in Salisbury, NC

    I have NEVER seen one around here before. Are they native to NC?

  • Found one of these huge caterpillars in the backyard today, in Salisbury, NC

    I have NEVER seen one around here before. Are they native to NC?

  • I took a picture of the caterpillar I saw, it doesn’t match what you say it should be. Sorry, but it looks like the Glover’s Silkmoth Caterpillar. Wish it was still around, but I’m afaid something got it. I couldn’t find it anywhere today.


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