Friday, August 5, 2016

The Magnificent Caterpillar of the Saturniid Silk Moth, Cecropia

I found a Cecropia moth caterpillar in the chicken pen this morning and it was huge and quite fabulous to look at.  It was huge and after doing some reading I found out that the Ceropia Moth is America's largest moth. It is a member of the family of giant silk moths. 
There is a fascinating article by Michael Cook on his Worm Spit blog about these silk moths. He raised some and has wonderful photos of them at every stage from a caterpillar to a beautiful moth. 

You can read his article here: Worm Spit: Wild Saturniid Silk Moth - Cecropia

I rescued it from the chickens run but I soon realized that something was wrong with it. I thought one of the chickens had pecked it or stepped on it but upon closer inspection I noticed a bunch of tiny eggs or larva and some blackened necrotic tissue. After doing a little research online I found out that the tiny white eggs were from a parasitic fly called the Tachinid Fly. See photos below:

So sad to see this beautiful creature so near death from a parasite but according to Mother Earth News, Tachinids are "Extremely beneficial because of their diversity, tachinids also can be very under-appreciated due to their small size and unseen activities. They help control garden pests such as gypsy moths, cabbage loopers, Japanese beetles, armyworms, cutworms, sawflies, codling moths, peach twig borers, pink bollworms, tent caterpillars, squash bugs and many more." You can read the full article here: Tachinid Flies Article Mother Earth News

Even knowing that the Tachinids would benefit our gardens it still made me sad to see this beautiful silk caterpillar parasitized like this. 


  1. informative and what lovely photos! thanks!

    1. So glad we reconnected through this little silk moth caterpillar ;-)