Cecropia Watch, Pt. 2

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June 8

We've had lots of cool, rainy weather, with night temps in the 40's and 50's. Today was a bit warmer, with some sun.

I had practically forgotten about the cocoons, since they they'd shown no sign of life. Then, today around noontime, I wandered out to check on my orchids, and . . .


Gadzooks!!! An enormous being was flapping its wings in front of my very nose!

Prepped by Julie, I knew this gorgeous monster was a male because of the big, feathery antennae, which male moths use as scent organs to find females. He had obviously been out of the cocoon for a while because his wings were already full and flat. Still, he gently pumped them, filling them with fluid from his abdomen (more about that later).

I stared and stared at him, amazed at his furry red legs and speckled body.

female crop

Then all of a sudden, I noticed ANOTHER moth,  clinging to another orchid! This one looked as if it had ony recently eclosed. Its wings hung down limply, soft and wrinkled.

I looked carefully at its antennae: much thinner.  This must be a female.  

I felt nervous about both moths not being able to climb high enough on the orchid plants to really spread their wings, so I delicated pried them off their orchids and moved them to a taller houseplant (Norway pine) nearby.

So, yeah, I discovered firsthand about that smelly stuff that moths excrete when disturbed.  Won't do THAT again!

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Once both moths were moved to the Norway pine, I just sat and stared at them.  I couldn't get enough of the male's furry legs . . . 

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 . . . or the female's fat abdomen, filled with eggs.

They were like a plush version of a butterfly! I wanted to pet them and scratch them behind the ears! But I knew that would harm their delicate scales.

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To give you an idea of their enormous size, here's a photo with my hand.

I was not worried about them flying away. I knew I had all day to watch them, because . . .

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