Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whatzit Wednesday - Cecropia Moth

 We love helping solve mysteries - especially when the question involves a beautiful creature. When a rather bizarre-looking moth recently landed in St. Elmo, the picture was sent to the Tennessee Aquarium for identification. And this shot is a dandy according to Aquarium entomologist Jennifer Taylor. "This is a great picture of a Cecropia Moth," said Taylor. "These moths are typically only seen at night when they are drawn to porch lights. The Cecropia Moth is the largest moth species in North America with an average wingspan around six inches." Evidently this huge moth stayed out too late and thought it found a good hiding place.
Cecropia Moths are found throughout the hardwood forests east of the Rocky Mountains in Canada and the United States. It's interesting to note the crescent moon-shaped marking on the moth's wing. While there's no correlation, the Cecropia Moth emerges from a crescent-shaped cocoon.

Cecropia caterpillars like to munch on the leaves of hardwood trees and shrubs, but according to the National Wildlife Federation these moths do not occur in large enough numbers to be considered a threat to ornamental trees and shrubs.

While the Aquarium doesn't have Cecropia Moths we do frequently display Atlas Moths, the largest moths in the world, in the Butterfly Garden. Taylor says these giants are very popular with guests.

Love butterflies? Don't miss Flight of the Butterflies 3D now showing at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater.