When I woke up this morning, I could see from my window that the beautiful Cecropia Moth was still there, in the bush outside my kitchen door. So I went out to capture it, intending to return it to the river bank where I'd found its cocoon last winter. I feared that it might not find a mate in my downtown Saratoga neighborhood.
Turns out, I needn't have worried, either, about the adult moth finding food plants in my neighborhood, since Cecropia Moths don't even have mouth parts for feeding. They emerge to mate and lay eggs and then die after about a week. Their larvae, however, DO need to eat, mostly maple leaves, and we've plenty of those in downtown Saratoga. In fact, there's a Box Elder tree, a species of maple, directly above this mating pair. So maybe I'll have a chance to meet the subsequent generation right in my own backyard. The first instar of larvae are small and black, but later instars are huge and spectacularly colored. I'll be on the lookout for them now.