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This is the "Glover's Silkmoth" or "Columbia silkmoth" or "Hyalophora columbia."
This is my favorite insect. Several people have been good enough to tutor me and I hope to raise some of these. Note the cage I made, below, and the comments/suggestions I've received.
Here it is in the caterpillar stage. It is one of the largest moths in North America. Years ago, I caught one and after photographing the moth, let it go free. You can see it in the "Moths" section.
This caterpillar was about 3 inches long. I took it home as it was a very obvious meal for a hungry predator such as a bird. I made a cage for it; details further down this page......
Greg Pohl tells me this plant is the Wolf Willow; the main host for the species.
Here is the cocoon it made a day or two after I found it, and where it will spend the winter:
On this page I hope to share all I learn about this fascinating and beautiful, not to mention "HUGE" insect so that anyone who wants to raise them might find this useful. I read somewhere that folks have tried to use the silk made by these insects, but without success.
Greg Pohl told me:
You'll have to overwinter them to get adults out - to do so, put them in a good-sized
screened jar (not too damp - mold will kill them), and then into an unheated place like a garage or
shed, where they'll get the full blast of winter cold. Then they should emerge in the spring. Make sure
they've got some sticks to hang onto and pull themselves out of the cocoons, and to hang off and expand
And Jan Scott told me:
I don't know if it is too late in your cage building to do this but I make a screen
bottom and screen side's and a 1/2 screen, 1/2 wood top and put it on something that raises it from the
ground or I make legs. That way they can get natural moisture but won't stay wet. Often kept in a garage
they dry out. I put a few sticks in for them when they emerge. I don't usually put them outside until
we've had a good frost. That prevents ants and small flies, etc. from getting through the screen. I'm not sure where
you live but here in Medicine Hat the Glover's usually emerge in the latter part of May. I usually bring
the cage inside about May 7 and spray the pupae once or twice a week. I like to watch them emerge.
If you plan to use a female that emerges to attract males in the spring put her in a cage late at night.
Glover's usually emit their phermones about 3 A.M. until dawn. If you want to watch the males come in
then you have to be there then. Some males don't come all the way to the cage so you may find some
hanging around nearby. I put one male in the cage and they usually stay coupled most of the day. She
usually starts laying the next day. She will lay eggs in the morning for a couple of days. I usually put
some pieces of paper towel in the cage so she can lay eggs there instead of the screen. I've raised
hundreds of Glover's over a few years.
In reply to more questions, Jan wrote:
If it is a male it WON'T attract females. The females release
phermones which attract the males. A female doesn't usually fly after
it emerges until it has been bred. Here the larvae usually feed on
chokecherry or Russian Olive. The moths don't feed-they don't have
feeding mouth parts. Moths only live 5-7 days. They lay a couple of
hundred eggs . I don't recommend raising very many caterpillars. They
require a lot of fresh food and they have to be cleaned almost daily.
You can't keep many in a container. Don't put too much food in the
container as there must be air circulation or you will get bacterial
infections or mold. E-mail me if you start rearing them in the spring
and I'll give you more info.
I only recommend people rearing them if they are able to look after them properly. It is fun to see the results but MANY people want to do it and aren't committed to the work involved and end up killing them all by poor hygiene and neglect.
Here is that cage I made for this moth:
A few interesting facts about this moth:
- the adult (the moth) does not feed
- the moth lays ONE batch of eggs May - July
- a batch of eggs may be only ONE egg or two; sometimes more
- caterpillars hatch in less than 2 weeks.
- the caterpillar feeds until late August and then makes a cocoon
- females emit pheremones to attract males