Our fleet of Cecropia Moths has captured visitors’ attention in every stage of their life cycle this summer. A long-time volunteer has been providing cecropia eggs to Tyler for years so we can continue to observe and share these fascinating creatures with our visitors. This year we received more eggs than usual – over one hundred! This was far more than expected, but we took the challenge head-on.
We placed some eggs on our black cherry tree (one of their host plants) and kept an eye on the other eggs as we waited for them to hatch. I like to joke that I became a mother this summer, as I took many of the eggs home to hatch safely, then brought the tiny caterpillars back to Tyler where they sat front and center at the Pollinator Preserve for everyone to admire as they began to grow (and grow and grow).
During the first week of my internship in early May, I carefully secured the previous year’s cocoons to the sides of one of our rearing cages in the Pollinator Preserve. Doing this allowed them to emerge safely, and everyone could easily see their beautiful coloring and enormous size. At this point, I have seen every stage of this magnificent creature’s life cycle, from cocoon to moth to egg through their five instars (growth stages of a caterpillar), and soon enough back to cocoon.