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 a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. This year Ms. Hanson is helping to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself (unless noted otherwise) with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.