A COMING OUT PARTY!
For the past couple of months, I have been watching and waiting for changes in this cocoon that hangs on a branch of wild cherry in our back yard. This is the over wintering stage of the Promethea Moth. Its caterpillar attached itself to a leaf and spun a web-like bundle to protect it from the cold. It hanged there, blowing in the breezes, in ice, snow and hard rain. In the last month, the foliage on the cherry hid the cocoon, but I kept a close watch. Actually, there were two to watch, and this weekend I discovered a moth clinging to one of the cocoons! Halleluia! Here it is: These moths emerge with one purpose - to find a mate. If it is a female, eggs will subsequently be laid, and then she will die. They are not equipped with mouth parts, so that is not an issue. The moth you see to the right is a female, intricately marked with a beautiful pattern. Her abdomen is huge, loaded with eggs. Interestingly enough, the male Promethea is very different looking, and I began looking and hoping to see one.
Sure enough, later in the day - about dinner time - I went out to check the cocoons. The female was still hanging on the leaves, but lo and behold, a male had found her! Here they are, showing the differences. Notice the difference in the size of the abdomens, and overall coloration. The male should have larger, antenna to track down the scent of the female. I also read that the male does not fly to lights, as does the female. The eggs are laid at night. I hope that eggs are laid in the same cherry tree, so I can find the growing caterpillars. I learned about these moths wile taking winter walks and looking at bare branches of shrubs. Both the Promethea and the Cecropia make cocoons that become quite visible once the leaves fall. Unfortunately, the Luna Moth makes its cocoon which drops down into the leaf litter. There it may be walked on, or raked up and burned!
We had a few extremely low and high tides recently, so you shouldn't be surprised to hear that I was out early checking out the sea life on the beaches. We dug Surf Clams and watched one use its muscular foot to dig down into the sand. We also found Sea Stars and Urchins, plus lots of Hermit Crabs. The tide came in too fast for us to find Lobsters, but there were crabs aplenty.
6/20/07 Ronnie, off to CT to see what moths are flying down there!