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Nature: Minnesota's monster-sized moth

A Cecropia moth cocoon. According to ask.extension.org, these cocoons are found on tree branches or leaves, but on occasion, they have been found in other protected areas. Photo by Cis Pecarich.1 / 5
Cecropia moth grasping it's cocoon after emergence. Notice the large body where it has stored up fat reserves for nourishment. In this phase of it's life, it no longer has a mouth! Photo by Cis Pecarich.2 / 5
Another view of the Cecropia moth grasping it's cocoon after emergence. Photo by Cis Pecarich.3 / 5
In this view you can see the large body of the Cecropia moth where it has stored up fat reserves for nourishment during this last phase of it's life. Photo by Cis Pecarich.4 / 5
A view of the Cecropia moth's large, colorfully detailed wings. Photo by Cis Pecarich.5 / 5

Cis Pecarich shared these photos of a Cecropia moth, shortly after emerging from it's cocoon. She writes, "I found the twig on the ground on the trail and brought it home and put it on my (wind)chimes. Found this happening."

Reading about the Cecropia moth on the Minnesota DNR website, dnr.state.mn.us and ask.extension.org, I learned that the Cecropia moth is Minnesota's largest silk moth, some with wingspans of almost 6 inches. They are most active and fly at night. The cocoons are often between 3-4 inches in length and are usually found on tree branches or leaves, but on occasion, they have been found in other protected areas.

As a caterpillar, it is also one of Minnesota’s largest. The caterpillar can stretch up to 5 inches long when fully grown. When it first hatches, it has black skin covered with bristles. Later it turns yellow, then green with brightly colored knobs (see photos of this stage in the accompanying link below).

You should look for this caterpillar on a tree or shrub during summer.

Because the fully grown cecropia moth does not have mouthparts or digestive organs, it must survive on fat stored up during its days as a caterpillar.

This species goes through one generation each year.

Learn more about caterpillars you can find in Minnesota with this downloadable .pdf file from the Minnesota DNR at the following link: https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/young_naturalists/young-natura...

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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