Subject: Newly emerged moth
Location: Randolph Co Indiana
April 26, 2016 3:01 pm
My daughter’s third graders found a cocoon on a building in October in NE Indiana. This morning, one of them yelled “That thing is moving!” And this interesting guy came out… Is it fully metamorphosed? Will the wings expand? What IS it?
Signature: Ms Lovern’s mom
Dear Ms Lovern’s mom,
Sometimes when an insect emerges from pupation in an enclosed container, the wings do not fully expand. We hope this Cecropia Moth eventually expanded its wings and was capable of flight, at which point we would recommend releasing it. Judging by the antennae, it looks like a female. Even if her wings do not fully expand, she can release pheromones and mate. In that case, she may attract a mate and lay viable eggs, which could be raised by your daughter’s class, though following that generation may take an entire year.
Thanks! I’ll pass this on to my daughter!
My mother messaged you recently with photos of a moth that emerged from a cocoon in my classroom. Her wings have not yet expanded but it appears she may be laying eggs in the terrarium?? Should we release her even with her closed wings so that she can try to find a mate or wait to see if her wings expand?
Dear Mrs. Lovern,
If her wings have not expanded after 24 hours, they most likely are either deformed or injured. Giant Silkmoths only live a few days and they do not eat. She will not be able to fly if her wings are deformed and her eggs will not hatch if they are not fertilized. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on leaves of various trees and shrubs including alder, apple, ash, beech, birch, box-elder, cherry, dogwood, elm, gooseberry, maple, plum, poplar, white oak, willow. may also feed on lilac and tamarack.” You can try releasing her on one of those trees and she may attract a mate.
Update April 29, 2016
Thank you for your reply we did release her and she now has clusters of eggs in the tree where we left her.