Hyalophora cecropia, the Saturniid

Its silk coccoon protects the pupa inside, the caterpillar exoskeleton is shed while inside and is left behind (at top) as evidence of the metamorphosis that occurred.

Ours got away before it could pose for a camera, but this is what it looks like. Can you see those cute fuzzy red legs?

It’s not the name of a Greek myth, or a planet from another galaxy- it’s a moth!  This website is a great website for classifying moths and butterflies, and can tell you all you’d like to know about this large wonderful and beautiful specimen.  This is just one of three species of moth whose pupae have been hibernating in a netted cage in the Acorn Room.  All we have left of our most recent arrival, Hyalophora cecropia- sad to say (though happily at the same time) is the cocoon and pupa, and the leftover parts of its larval caterpillar body that are evidence of its birth as an adult.  It has flown away, rightly so, with wings intact thanks to the patient way it waited to fly until it was out of its netted home.

Its red furry body was definitely that of an insect, with six red fuzzy legs, and the cutest face (really, really cute, yes- even though it was a large insect).  It seemed to say hi to us with its front left leg before it beat its wings to fly for the first time toward our nature path.  To tell the difference between moths and butterflies you need only look at their antennae.  Butterflies have “clubbed” antennae, with a little dot on the end like you might draw in a picture of a butterfly.  Moths have “combed” antennae that look like feathery combs.  Moth antennae are built to “smell” the world around them as they seek the scent of a mate to continue their life cycle.

On this day when we celebrate reducing our campus waste, we can be happy for all the cycles of our beautiful planet; recycles, upcycles, and the cycles of life that keeps showing us wonders over and over again.

May Earth Day be Every Day!

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