I am fascinated by the beautiful cecropia moth. The largest one I have seen had a wingspan that measured 4-1/2 to 5 inches. Can you tell me more about this unique creature?
—Virginia Martin, Lynchburg, Virginia
Tom: The cecropia is a gorgeous moth that belongs to a group of large moths in the Saturniidae family. They include moths like the luna, polyphemus and others.
None of this group have mouthparts, so they cannot feed as butterflies do. Instead, they live on stored fat reserves just long enough to reproduce and lay their eggs—perhaps a week or so. As caterpillars, they feed on a variety of trees, including cherry, apple, birch, beech, maple, poplar and many others.