Moths of North Carolina
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86 NC Records

Hyalophora cecropia (Linnaeus, 1758) - Cecropia Moth



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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SaturniidaeSubfamily: SaturniinaeTribe: AttaciniP3 Number: 890082.00 MONA Number: 7767.00
Comments: One of two members of this genus that occurs in eastern North America and the only one in our area (the Columbia Silkmoth, Hyalophora columbia, occurs in eastern Canada and New England)
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1972), Tuskes et al. (1996)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Covell (1984), Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults are unmistakable. Along with the Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus), this is one of our largest resident moths, possessing a wingspan of 4-6 inches (exceeded in size only by the Black Witch, a tropical stray). This species is a darker grayish brown than the generally tan Polyphemus and also possesses distinctive white and red bands on the wings and extensive areas of red on the thorax and abdomen. Unlike the elliptical spots on the wings of the Polyphemus, the spots on the Cecropia are crescent-shaped.
Wingspan: 125-165 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Unmistakable and widely known.
Immatures and Development: The large pale green larvae are also easily recognized by its rows of red, yellow, and blue knobs running the length of the body (Callosamia larvae are similar but the knobs are restricted to the anterior and posterior; see Wagner, 2005, for details).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Occurs state-wide but is generally not common (Brimley, 1938). Populations in the peatlands and flatwoods of the Coastal Plain appear to be the most robust, with multiple individuals often collected at UV traps (a maximum of 11 were recorded at one site).
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Single brooded throughout the state. Adults fly only in the spring in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont and in early summer in the Mountains.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Most of our records come from shrubby peatland and flatwoods habitats in the Coastal Plain. We have also found it in a shrub-swamp in a Piedmont floodplain. Elsewhere in the Piedmont and Mountains, records come from upland stands of hardwoods, including at least one site located above 4,000 ft.
Larval Host Plants: Feeds on many species of hardwood trees and shrubs. Favored host plants include Apple, Ash, Box Elder, Cherry, Poplar, Sassafras, and Willow, with Birch, Elm, Larch, and Maple also being used (Wagner, 2005). Hall and Sullivan found a larvae feeding on Titi (Cyrilla racemosa) in a pocosin in the Croatan National Forest and Sullivan also found them on Loblolly bay (Gordonia lasianthus); we believe this helps explain its abundance in Coastal Plain peatlands, which otherwise lack most of the reported host plants. Hall also discovered a larva feeding on Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) in the western Piedmont.
Observation Methods: Comes well to 15 watt UV lights and also to incandescent light to some extent. Adults do not feed and consequently are not attracted by bait. Adult females can be tethered in order to attract males via the pheromones they release. Larvae can be detected in low trees and shrubs through their droppings. Their spindle-shaped cocoon -- tapered on both ends -- are frequently attached to twigs, where they may be searched for in the winter, serving as the basis for site records for this species.
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Shrublands
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Considered uncommon historically in North Carolina (Brimley, 1938) although populations in pocosins and other Coastal Plain peatlands appear to be fairly vigorous. The generalized habitats, use of a wide range of common host plants, and tolerance for urban environements (Schweitzer et al., 2011) should allow Hyalophora to recover from most localized extirpations. However, in the Northeast, this species has declined as a result of parasitism from a Tachinid fly, Compsilura concinnata, introduced to control Gypsy Moth populations (Boettner et al.; Wagner, 2005; Schweitzer et al., 2011; Wagner, 2012). Although this fly has not been used as a biocontrol in North Carolina, it appears to be expanding its range southward on its own and is now well established in Virginia (Kellogg et al., 2003). Arrival of this exotic species is likely to pose a pervasive threat to the Cecropia Moth as well as other moth species in our state. In the Northeast, where introduction of this fly began over a century ago, it is suspected to be one of the main factors leading to the massive decline of many of its most charismatic species (Wagner, 2012).

 Photo Gallery for Hyalophora cecropia - Cecropia Moth

44 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2022-06-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2022-04-30
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Marcy Ricks on 2021-05-12
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Marcy Ricks on 2021-05-12
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Marcy Ricks on 2021-05-12
Halifax Co.
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Recorded by: Vicki Acker on 2021-04-27
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Vicki Acker on 2021-04-27
Transylvania Co.
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Recorded by: Scott Zona on 2020-04-19
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Stephen Hall on 2019-07-01
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2019-06-04
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Dowlan on 2018-07-15
Caldwell Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Dowlan on 2018-07-15
Caldwell Co.
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Recorded by: Cynthia Hever on 2018-06-05
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Alicia Ballard on 2018-06-04
Caswell Co.
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Recorded by: Phil Weinrich on 2018-05-31
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Phil Weinrich on 2018-05-31
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Rebecca Lynch-Maass on 2017-06-01
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Linda Thurman on 2017-05-16
Cabarrus Co.
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Recorded by: Peter Vankevich on 2017-04-10
Hyde Co.
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Recorded by: Lori Owenby on 2016-06-10
Catawba Co.
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Recorded by: Lori Owenby on 2016-06-10
Catawba Co.
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Recorded by: J. A. Anderson on 2015-06-13
Surry Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Beane on 2014-05-30
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: J. Murray on 2013-05-02
Onslow Co.
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Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-07-06
Ashe Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-04-04
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Paul Scharf on 2012-04-04
Warren Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Hall and Crystal Cockman on 2011-07-07
Rowan Co.
Comment: Found feeding at night on Buttonbush growing in a shallow beaver pond
Recorded by: Doug Blatny / Jackie Nelson on 2011-06-17
Ashe Co.
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