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Moth Man -- 2010 Season.

Time line of events of 2010:
  • June 5: First emergence reported to me from Eden Prairie Minnesota.
  • June 11: First emergence at my place ( Madison, Wisconsin) One male.
  • June 13: Cecropia question from Morgantown, WV.
  • June 15: Two more males and One Female.
  • June 16: Mating pair.
  • June 17: Alas! I was trying to respect the couple's privacy and decided to wait till the couple had finished to move the female to paper bag - to deposit her eggs. Long story short - she had escaped from my cage before I could gather any of her eggs. Hopefully she made it safely to a tree (or number of trees) in the area to lay her eggs in nature.
  • June 21: Fearing that I would be without any Moths to raise for the first time in 10 years, I contacted Paul Williams who has given me some eggs from his brood (both Cecropia and Promethia). THANK YOU Paul!
  • June 22: But wait - one more moth emerged from my group. A female with mal-formed wings. I have seen this occasionally in previous years and in one case the female actually was able to mate - though she wasn't able to fly away and deposit her eggs (do you see any irony here?)
  • June 22: FIRST Promethia emerges. Male. I'll keep the cage doors closed this time.
  • June 23: Second Promethia emerges - Male
  • June 23: First Cecropia eggs hatch (laid June 11).
  • June 24: Second Cecropia eggs hatch (laid June 12). Aprox. 1/2 eggs failed to hatch from this batch.
  • June 25: Released last of Prometheus moths - all male this year - hope they find a mate.
  • June 27: Promethia eggs hatch.
  • July 1: WAIT A MINUTE !! This morning Debi discovered a Prometheus moth in the cage (on the deck) and it's a Female -newly emerged. At 5:15 this afternoon three males came to visit. More
  • August 6: First Cecropia cocoon spin up on Apple - this is VERY early - in my experience (it has been an early year for most things; lots of rain and warm weather all summer.)
  • August 13: All but one Cecropia have spun up a cocoon. This is almost a month ahead of normal (IMHO).

Pictures and notes from 2010 (click on each image for a larger view):

Sighting in Minnesota

I sent Kate a link to a neat little pamphlet that was put together by Dr. Paul Williams. This is a nice introduction to raising these moths. Click here to download a PDF version for yourself.

First cecropia 2009
Cecropia Moth
First moth emerges (my back yard). Not a very good photo this year.

Sighting in West Virginia

Mating Pair

Moth Mating Pair
Cecropia mating
This was the last I saw of my female this year. I usually carefully move the mating pair into a paper bag so she will lay her eggs (or at least as many as I need) before I release her into the neighborhood.

This year I decided to respect their privacy and wait till they were finished mating. I kept checking on their progress but the last time I checked she had already finished and managed to find her way through the bars and escape into the wild.

Due to my problems with earwigs last year; eating all the young caterpillars in 3 out of 5 of my 'bags', I only had one female emerge. So this year may mark the first year in 11 years raising these moths, that I don't have any to raise.

Eggs - here we go again

Moth Eggs
Eggs - (lf) Cecropia (rt) Promethia
Emergency shipment of eggs to get me back in 'production'. The Cecropia eggs (left) were laid June 11 and June 12. The Promethia eggs (Right) were laid on June 16.

Mal-formed Cecropia emerges with only partially formed wings.

Wingless Cecropia
Wingless Cecropia
Wing stuck in cocoon
Right wing stuck in cocoon
Wing stuck in cocoon
After cutting slit in cocoon
This poor moth (female) emerged without fully developed wings.
Her right wing is actually caught inside the cocoon and she is struggling to get it free.

I had to carefully cut a slit in the cocoon and help her get it out.

Even so, both wings are only partially formed and she is unable to expand them.

I placed her back in the cage to see if she would still attract a male. It may be to late in this 'early' season for males to be flying around in the wild.

Alas, none came to visit.

Promethia Moths start to emerge in my back yard.

Promethia Moth
Promethia Moth - Male
Promethia Moth
Promethia Moth among cherry leaves
First Promethia Moth emerged as a male. I had about given up on these but I've learned not to worry. So, welcome.

Over the next two days, two more males have emerged. No female here so I'll count my cocoons and if there are none left I will open the door and let these guys go free.

Hey girl, you're a little late.

Promethia female
Female Promethia
Promethia mating
Female with two males
This female waited till July 1, 2010 to emerge from her cocoon. I was afraid she would be too late to attract any males from the environment.

But within 4 hours (at around 5:00 PM) we had 3 males flitting around the cage. This is an amazing feeling for those of you who have never seen it. It's magical. It's simply amazing. I have seen it a hand full of times since I've been raising these moths and I never get over it.

The two males in this picture arrived within 5 minutes of each other and they pretty much found the female at the same time. One approached from one end and the other - the other. It took less than a minute to determine the winner. Simply amazing!

The third male flew around for a few minutes but he didn't hang around. I assume once mating starts the pheromones stop.

By 9:00 PM they had finished mating and I put her in a bag to collect some of her eggs before I let her go.

Newly hatched and second instar.

Cecropia larvae
Cecropia caterpillars
Promethia Larvae
Promethia caterpillars (and eggs)
Newly Hatched Cecropia and Promethia caterpillars. Notice how the Promethia like to congregate. They line up in ranks to eat and to rest. After a while - when they get bigger - they do split up. I wonder what's up with this...

The Cecropia tend to be loners. The one pictured in the middle has already shed his first skin. They grow so fast, don't they?
Promethia Larvae
Promethia caterpillars closeup
(click on image for larger view)