A North American native, the lushly exotic-looking Cecropia Silkmoth lays its eggs on "various trees and shrubs including box elder, sugar maple, wild cherries and plums, apples, alder and birch, dogwoods and willows," where the caterpillars gorge through five instar phases before spinning a cocoon and metamorphosizing into the astonishing creature (above) we held in our hand for one brief, shining moment this morning at Goomp's Down East. Given the local plant community, the spreading apple or the amelancher in the front forty looks to be the likely nursery for this miracle of nature.
As we were letting Goomp's Purrky out onto the little porch here at Camelot-by-the-Sea early morning, a small bit of something animalcule caught the pussycat's eye. Uh, oh, another bird or chipmunk gone the way of all flesh, we sighed. But no. Purrk wasn't interested in whatever it was and headed off on his rounds. We took a closer look, and a wonderment: A Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia). Last time we'd seen one we were still wet behind the ears ourselves. This one, fresh from the cocoon, was flexing its wings preparatory to taking the plunge.
As a little girl, we'd captured an outrageously gorgeous plump caterpillar in the family garden and set it up in a homemade terrarium to complete its eating orgy, pupate and finally emerge months later into a likeness of the stunning specimen above. This morning we coaxed the totally awesome creature onto our left hand and took a few photographs one-handed with our right before the transcendent moment when it suddenly took flight and soared off into the early-morning light in search of love.
Adult Cecropias "do not feed." No dinner dates for them, but not to worry: "The females emit pheromones at night, which the male can detect with its large, plumose antennae. Males can fly for miles in order to reach a female. The moths mate, and the female spends the remainder of her life laying eggs, while the male may mate several more times." Looks like our little guy was hot to trot.
More pictures below from our Memorial Day salute to the brave and good and true fellow Americans who give their all so we might enjoy such natural wonders. The cookout was a triumph, our dearly departed mother's garden was in glorious bloom, and Susie's rhubarb pie was a show stopper. Purrky provided the entertainment by delivering a chipmunk before the assembled guests. Quickly mobilizing, we grabbed him up, shaking the chipster out of the jaws so it had time to scurry away. As we always say, our beloved puddies have their imperatives, and we have ours.
None of these men will be with us tomorrow as we celebrate the many freedoms we enjoy on Memorial Day.