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Cecropia Moth

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Spring is here and we could not be happier about the arrival of this new season and how it will affect the nature in High Park! The start of Spring has us thinking a lot about the animals who are waking and returning.

One that comes to mind is an animal that was found slumbering in High Park late-winter, but has clearly been in that sealed up cocoon since the end of summer…a Cecropia Moth!

With their reddish bodies and black to brown wings, this beautiful silk moth is the largest moth found in North America. Their wingspan can be anywhere between 13 to 18 centimeters!

We’re excited about the prospect of that Cecropia Moth Caterpillar waking this season as an adult. Cecropia Moths have a really interesting life cycle!

In late-spring, Females lay over a hundred eggs. When the caterpillars hatch, they are black in color. As they go through successive molts, they increase in size and change color from black to yellow to green. They almost look like something out of a sci-fi movie! At the end of the summer, the approximately 13cm-long caterpillar will seal itself into a cocoon and emerge in the spring as an adult moth. Adult Cecropia Moths are born without mandibles, which means that adult moths can’t consume food. With that in mind, if a predator doesn’t eat them, Cecropia Months will usually die within two weeks of being an adult. Basically, the purpose of their adult life is to hatch, mate, lay eggs.

Fun Fact: Male Cecropia Moths can detect the pheromones of the female from over a kilometer and a half away.