Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Psychedelic Cecropia Moth Caterpillar

Maybe this is the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar that Alice was talking to on her journey to Wonderland?

In terms of both wingspan and sheer bulk the Cecropia Moth is the largest of the local Saturniid or Giant Silk Moths. But then, Hyalophora cecropia starts out life as a larval heavyweight.

This caterpillar is huge, at least 11 cm long and 3 cm thick. And yes, those are VERY sharp black spines growing on the psychedelic bright yellow, day-glow orange and pretty powder blue tubercles.

Cecropia Moth larvae feed on a variety of host plants – alder, willow, birch, sugar maple, box elder, apples, plums and wild cherries; this one was found feeding on Choke Cherry.

The adult Cecropia Moth has a less gaudy but still beautiful color scheme. And ironically, although the caterpillar eats, and eats, and eats, the adult moth doesn't, it exists only to find a mate and lay eggs, and after a week to ten days ... it dies ...