At least, that’s how I imagine birds must view the cecropia moths….”Hey, look at that, Feathers, it’s a HUGE flying dinner! That ought to stuff the kiddies full!”
What?! Can’t I anthropomorphize a bit?
The moths have been emerging steadily with the current count at 3 females and 5 males. They all seem to emerge between 11 a.m. and Noon. By about 6 p.m., their wings are hardened enough to fly off if they choose. Of course, when they first come out of the cocoon, their wings are as fragile as wet tissue paper.
Oh, in case you do decide to have them emerge inside, you will want to put something below the cocoon, as they do empty their gut of all the wastes they have stored up over the winter. Yeah, it’s pretty smelly!
I was surprised that you can’t really tell which cocoon they emerged out of at first glance. Somehow, I pictured more carnage…kind of like Christmas Day with kids ripping open packages.
But, they manage to wriggle out a VERY tiny hole in the end of the cocoon and leave it intact. If you open the empty cocoon up, you can see the shed pupal case (complete with waste in the bottom that was squeezed out as the moth emerged…you are forewarned!).
I still have about 10 left that are sitting in the box. I’m wondering if they just didn’t make it. Here are some photos of the female vs the male antennae:
I think there may have been something amiss with the latest female, as she and 2 males emerged on the same day. I expected the males to flock around here, but they ignored her and flew off. When I looked at her more closely, it appears she may have damaged herself emerging from her cocoon.
Here is a picture of her abdomen and then the close-up of what looks like a rip:
A rip? She never flew (although she does pump her wings) and is still sitting alone in the lilac bush tonight, poor thing.
I just love it that these moths look like they are covered in shag carpeting, too!
And look at this beautiful wing pattern:
UPDATE: Turns out the female was O.K. I came back the next day to find her mating, so it looks like everything worked out for her. She did not lay her eggs on the lilac bush, though (whcih is good, because I really need to trim it back this year).
Also, 3 more males & 2 females emerged, leaving only 3 left in the box.