I was walking along the edge of my yard with the dogs this afternoon, when I came upon these two cocoons hanging from a small Tulip Tree. (You can see the second cocoon above and to the right of the first.)
It is still dark and rough, but the winter sun will bleach it and her elements round off some of the rough edges.
I was surprised to find these since I hadn't come across a single adult this season at the lights.
This is the "cocoonery" I built a few years ago. You can see the empty cocoons of some Cecropias in there now. I moved the Prometheas in there for safe keeping and to give me the opportunity to see them when they eclose. I'll add the picture of the adult come spring.
June 13, 2003
Finding one of the large saturniids on a late spring night always gets my blood pumping.
This is the first Promethea of the year and has followed the other large silk moth, Luna, by a couple weeks. This is from one of the 3 coccoons I found in my yard this winter. Two more to go (that I know of, at least)
This, being a saturniidae, does not feed as an adult. All energy comes from nutrients taken in at the caterpillar stage.
July 12, 2003
I found these third instar larvae on a young sassafras tree. The one furthest to the
right is in the middle of molting. You can
see where the outer skin is split.
This is the 4th instar larva two days
later - they are starting to uncluster.
July 23, 2003
We're up to the fifth instar now. The 4 knobs on the thorax have turned from yellow to blazing orange. (This is the "wild one", by the way)
I figured I'd give them a bit of a hedge against the wasps, so I bagged 'em. I let one of the 6 run wild, though. I want to see how well it makes it without the extra protection.
That tied off area on the lower right is something Betsy worked into the design when she sewed up a bunch of bags for me. It's a frass cleaner-outer sleeve.
July 28, 2003
Five days later and they are bursting at the seams...
August 3, 2003
Holy crap! Look what I found today! These are the eggs they all hatched from. I found them while searching the leaves for cocoons.
Interesting - this means there were five more caterpillars than I found. Whatever happened to them - stinkbug attack, wasps, birds, or even dispersal - is anyone's guess.
August 2, 2003
And we have cocoons! Two of them were nailed by parasites and never made it - probably happened before I bagged them. Two made it to cocoon and the one wild one is fatter than ever.
(and so I did.....)
May 26, 2004
I found these two newly eclosed
males stretching their wings in
the cocoonery. They had emerged
at about 1:30 PM on this cool
and drizzly spring afternoon.
With that, we have completed the
cycle, beginning in November '02
and ending one and a half years
later. As I type this, one has already
flown off to the woodland edge, and the other is just about ready to go.
Maybe I'll find the cocoons of their offspring in the winter.*