6 Fascinating Facts About Cecropia Moths

Discover everything you need to know about the cecropia moth, one of the largest and most beautiful moths in America.

A cecropia moth pauses on a branch.Cathy Keifer / Getty Images

Cecropia Moths Have a Very Large Wingspan

The cecropia moth is the largest species native to North America, with a wingspan of 5 to 7 inches. Check out these amazing photos of moths that are just as beautiful as butterflies.

Their Caterpillars are Big, Too

It’d be hard to miss these cecropia caterpillars out in nature. They grow up to 4.5 inches long! Take our fun caterpillar photo quiz.

The Caterpillars Have Colorful Bumps

You’ll quickly notice the bright bumps, called tubercles, on the caterpillars. These bumps come in three colors—blue, yellow and red—and can change as they grow. Psst—meet the colorful moths you can see during daytime.

Adult Moths Are Missing a Mouth

An adult cecropia moth eats zero times—it doesn’t have a functioning mouth, since its only purpose is to mate. Caterpillars, on the other hand, munch on a variety of leaves. Here’s how to plant a caterpillar cafe.

Cecropia mothDE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY / Getty ImagesMales Rely on Smell

Males heavily rely on one sense during mating season: their sense of smell. Female cecropia moths send out pheromones for the males to follow.

Females Lay 100 Eggs

During the spring and early summer, a female cecropia moth lays about 100 eggs on hardwood tree leaves. It takes 10 to 14 days for the eggs to hatch into caterpillars after the female lays them. Can you tell the difference between monarch butterfly eggs and aphids? 

Emily Hannemann
Emily Hannemann is an associate digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in magazine writing from the University of Missouri - Columbia. When she’s not writing and editing, you’ll find her swimming, running, or hiking. She knows blue jays are controversial, but she loves them anyway.