Saturnid Moth Cocoons

I got some Saturnid moth cocoons from biological supply company today. (We had to check first to make sure California would allow them to come into the state, and they did.) I gave them a short soak in water (about 20 seconds) before setting them up in the little pop-up butterfly house I’d purchased.

There are six cocoons, all made by silk moth caterpillars, but I can’t tell what species they are by looking at the cocoons.. so I’ll just be surprised when they hatch.  I have to mist them a little bit each day until they emerge. If they’re on track (and aren’t in diapause) I should have giant moths in about 2 or 3 weeks.  Because they’ll be indoors, they may hatch sooner than they normally would.  I’ll keep you apprised of their progress.

I got them in part because I wanted to see the big moths emerge (and maybe get some photos/videos of that process), and in part to see if would be appropriate to do again next year for the Certified Naturalist Class I’ll be co-teaching.

As you read this, bear in mind that it’s illegal in most (if not all) states to take moth cocoons and other biological and cultural artifacts from the landscape without a permit.  Here in California, the rules for collection are exceedingly strict; you can’t even pick up road kill without a permit.  The cocoons I purchased were from a licensed biological supply company that raises moths and collects their cocoons for education purposes.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of legal paperwork that was sent along with the cocoons.

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Mary K. Hanson is an author, nature photographer and Certified California Naturalist living with terminal cancer.