Raising Cecropia Moths....

In 1999 we were given a few Cecropia caterpillars to raise. We fed them crab apple leaves until they "spun up". They over-wintered in the garage and emerged the next June. We kept the moths in our guest room and they layed their eggs on the window screen; the window sill; the wall; the floor. The baby caterpillars hatched and the cycle started again.

This was the last year they were allowed in our guest room, however.

(Click on image to inlarge)

Spring 2002 -- I modified this old bird cage -- lined it with window screen -- and kept the moths inside when they emerged. I kept enough pairs to insure that at least one female would lay eggs.

(Click on image to inlarge)

A row of eggs layed on an old paint rag hung on the cage door (above). These eggs are coated with an encredibly sticky glue -- nearly impossible to remove (reason these moths are no longer welcome in the guest room).

After getting one mating pair I open the door allowing the rest to leave as they emerge. This young couple only made it as far as the deck where they settled in for a days "work".

The Cecropia are a member of the silk moth family and a relative of the Gypsy Moth. But unlike their imigrant relatives the Cecropia are are not voracious eaters and pose no such danger to the environment. They are also much loved by birds (while caterpillars) and bats (while moths). They are also affected by the bacteria that many cities spray to control the Gypsy Moth.


This year I saved 14 caterpillars (I give away the rest). Instead of bringing leaves inside, this year I put caterpillars inside net bags that are tied out on the tree branches.

Madison used to spray the bacteria (b-t) to kill the Gypsy Moth. This is non-selective and kills any moths species in the silk moth family. In 2001 Madison switched to spraying a pheromone that 'confuses' the male gypsy moth into mating anything they happen to see -- and hopefully not female gypsy moths. Pheromones are highly selective for species and this new strategy will help save the Cecropia (if more towns do it).

These are incredible creatures. They have dignity and grace. They have a self assured confidence They don't hurry anything: Emerging, mating, laying eggs, eating, spinning, metamorphosing/hibernating, mating, etc, etc...


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Intrduction to Treenuts
Planting 2003
Classic Treenuts Web site
Burr Oak from Seed (2002-03
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