Nebraska Saturniidae

This is one of the moth groups we will be adding to our website later this spring.

Moths in the Lepidopteran Family Saturniidae are commonly called silkworm moths although the moth used by the Chinese to make silk is actually a member of a closely related family (Bombycidae). Nonetheless many Saturniid Moths spin cases of silk in which they pupate. There are about 2,300 members of the Family worldwide, just about 100 in North America and 12 recorded from Nebraska.

Rarely common, these moths run the gamut of being some of the largest (Cecropia and Polyphemus Moths) most conspicuous moths to being fairly small and innocuous. Most, if not all, lack functioning mouthparts and do not feed as adults, subsisting on the energy they “brought with them” from the larval stage. Thus, their adult lifespan is fairly short and when their energy reserves are depleted they expire. The sole function of adults then becomes propagating the species.

To this end females emit pheromones to attract males which have large feathery antennae to detect said pheromones and follow them to their source, the female. Larvae feed on trees or shrubs with some species being host specific and others being generalists.

Cecropia Moth, wingspan 4 1/4 – 6 inches
Honey Locust Moth, wingspan 2 – 2 1/2 inches

While there are a few late summer records the larger species are generally restricted to a single spring-early summer brood annually while some of the smaller members of this group are capable of producing multiple generations. This group overwinters as pupae.

More on some of the amazing moths we will be featuring on our website will follow in the coming days.

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