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Mystery Cocoon

15 years ago

Yesterday, when I walked past a young sweetbay/magnolia virginiana that I walk past all the time, I noticed some leaves rolled up together. I pulled the little branch down and found a cocoon inside! Isn't it fun to be surprised like that? I'm trying to figure out what type of cocoon it is. It looks a lot like a polyphemus cocoon, because it has a lot of gold in the silk, but it could be a luna moth, since it's approximately the same size and shape, just not as brown. There are many oak and sweetgum trees (hosts for polyphemus and luna cats) near this sweetbay, so the cat could have easily crawled onto the sweetbay to spin its cocoon.

I looked up the pictures of silk moth cocoons in my Moths of Eastern North America and was surprised to see that the cocoon of sweetbay silkmoths/callosamia securifera, look similar to the other two mentioned. The only type of callosamia moth cocoon I've seen is a promethea silkmoth/c. promethea, which hang from a little attachment to the tree - the picture of the c. securifera was wrapped in leaves just like my cocoon. So maybe the cocoon is on the host tree - imagine that! :0

Last year, late in the year as I remember, a tattered female callosamia - at least I think she was a female - hung out under the light on my garage, where I see so many moths. I couldn't tell if she was a c. securifera female or c. angulifera/tuliptree silkmoth - they look nearly identical. I'm wondering if this cocoon may contain one of her offspring. Anyway, here's a picture of the cocoon, at least as much of it as I could photograph -

And here's a picture of last year's mystery female callosamia -

I'm going to monitor this cocoon, watching for the adult to emerge. If it still hasn't emerged by early March after I've moved my cages with cocoons and chrysalids from my unheated guest room to the front porch, I'll cut off the little branch and put it in with my cocoons. I'd do it now, but I'm afraid to change the climate it's been in, which, although the change would be small, might be enough to make the adult emerge early, which I don't want. Whatever it is, if it's a female, I'd like to get some eggs to raise myself.

I love waiting for butterflies and moths to emerge!


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