6 Fascinating Cecropia Moth Facts

Updated: Mar. 19, 2024

A cecropia moth is hard to miss in the garden. Learn facts about one of the largest and most beautiful moths in America.

A Cecropia Moth Has a Very Large Wingspan

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

The cecropia moth is the largest species native to North America, with a wingspan of 5 to 7 inches. It is widespread across the eastern half of the U.S.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say that in the cecropia moth’s range, you might also spot a related species, the Columbia silk moth. “It is very similar to the cecropia moth but is smaller and usually lacks any hint of red in its pale wing stripes.”

Check out these amazing pictures of moths that are just as beautiful as butterflies.

Cecropia Caterpillars are Big, Too

It’d be hard to miss these cecropia caterpillars out in nature. They grow up to 4.5 inches long!

Learn what a luna moth looks like.

The Caterpillars Have Colorful Bumps

278084064 1 Christopher Errington Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Christopher Errington
Cecropia moth caterpillar

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. During summer, it takes a cecropia caterpillar approximately five weeks to reach the cocoon stage. The following spring, it emerges as an adult.

Psst—meet the colorful moths you can see during daytime.

Adult Moths Are Missing a Mouth

Bnbugc Calvin AndersonCourtesy Calvin Anderson

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.

Kenn and Kimberly say, “(These) members of the giant silk moth family are beautiful creatures but are not seen often because the adults live only a short time—just long enough to mate and lay eggs to start the next generation.”

Discover interesting hummingbird moth facts.

Males Rely on Smell to Find Mates

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

Meet the silk moths that might be in your backyard.

Females Lay 100 Eggs

A cecropia moth perches on a gerber daisy.Courtesy of Carol Ecker

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.

Next, learn about sphinx moths, the stars of the evening garden.


About the Experts

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman are the official birding experts for Birds & Blooms. They are the creators of the Kaufman Field Guide series and they speak and lead birding tours around the world.

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