Welcome to Mothman's Silk Moth Page

by Jeff Ausmus at mothman15@hotmail.com

August 30, 2009 IMPORTANT UPDATE!: On October 26, 2009, this site will no longer be available, because Geocities.com has decided to close. However, I wish to continue the website, and will do so at a new site. Please change your bookmarks to: http://freewebs.com/mothman15. The site there is not yet up and running, but I will be uploading new stuff in the near future, and will be adding lots of new and updated things. Thank you all for your support over the last 10 years, and as always, I can still be contacted at: mothman15@hotmail.com. Thanks! Jeff

Photo of Eacles oslari

This page features information about the common Silk Moths of the United States.

Information about the luna moth, the cecropia moth and many other silk moths comes from personal experience, however, several texts have been referenced: Credits

Information Links

Scenting Log, 2001

Eclosion Log, 2001

Rearing Moths

Photo Album

Tree Identification


If you need to identify the gender of a moth, please click here! This is for Hyalophora cecropia, but it is a similar difference with many of the other silk moths.

It's recommended you read the following information before the specific information pages.

General Information

This is some general information that applies to all the silk moths (Saturniidae) on my page (if not all in the U.S.)

Eating and Living Habits:

Silk Moths don't eat! They have to live on any food they stored as a caterpillar. Since they have a limited supply of energy and food, silk moths usually live only about a week. This lifespan can be increased to about a month if they are kept in the fridge, where very little energy is being used by them.

Scenting and Mating:

On this site, for each specific moth, I have the times that females put out their scent to attract males. However, this time is very general, and is for my area and from my experience. It may vary widely in different areas of the country. Each moth has a specific time for puting out it's scent. To see the specific times, please click below the appropriate link for the moth you want to see.

The female moth puts out a "scent" (which is really a pheromone, and cannot be smelled) at a specific time (different for every moth). This scent is picked up by the males with their sensitive antennae. A male moth may fly up to 5 miles in one night to reach the female and mate with it!

When a female moth hatches, it remains where it hatches until it gets male to mate with it. It attempts to attract males in with it's scent. If a female does not get a male to come to it, after 3 to 4 days, it WILL fly away from where it hatched, and will also start laying unfertilized eggs. They can still mate after this occurs, you just won't get as many good eggs out of them. If a female does get a mate to come in, they can remain paired for up to 24 hours. They can be broken apart after about five minutes and the egg should be fertilized, but there really is no reason to do this, so it's best to leave them coupled until they break up on their own. The only time you might want to break them up is if the female is older and you fear it might die before laying all it's eggs, otherwise you should let the couple separate by themselves.


After the female lays its eggs, they usually hatch about 7 - 14 days later. This is not neccessary, but usually you have enough eggs that you can spare a couple. After about a week, if you don't feel like waiting another week to see if the eggs will hatch, you can take a pin and very carefully pop open an egg. If it is fertilized you will see the formation of a very small caterpillar.

Differentiating Males and Females:

Male and female silk moths differ slightly. There are a few ways to tell, but if you are not experienced (and even if you are) , it is sometimes very difficult to tell the difference.

  • Both males and females make the same kind of cocoons. A silk casing on the outside, and then a pupa inside the casing. The most general way to tell is to pick the cocoon up. The females tend to be a bit heavier, but this way has no assurances.
  • A good way to tell from the pupae is to look at the 5th segment of their body, see this picture to understand: pupae
  • Another way (which is NOT at all recommended)is to open the silk casing from this you can look at the antennae. The antennae of the females are noticably smaller than the males.
  • The last way that I know of, is to wait until the moth hatches, and then again, look at it's antennae.

Female Polyphemus Male Polyphemus

This is what a female antennae looks like at left the male is on the right.

Specific Silk Moth Information

Pick which moth you want to learn about and click on the colored link:

Luna Moth (Actias luna)

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Promethea (Callosamia promethea)

Cynthia Moth (Samia cynthia)

Polyphemus (Antheraea polyphemus)

Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis)

Io Moth (Automeris io)

Royal Walnut Moth (Citheronia regalis)

For information on some of the rarer silk moths of North America click on the appropriate link: Here are some of the rarer silk moths in North America. These "rarer" moths may be found commonly in your area they are categorized here because of their rarity or absence in my area.

Tulip Tree (Callosamia angulifera)

Columbian Moth (Hyalophora columbia)

Calleta Moth (Eupackardia calleta)

Euryalis Moth (Hyalophora euryalis)

Glover's Moth (Hyalophora gloveri)

Agapema Moth (Agapema homogena)

Oculea Moth (Antheraea oculea)

Sweetbay Moth (Callosamia securifera)

Cincta Moth (Rothschildia cincta)

Pamina Moth (Automeris pamina)

Splendens Moth (Citheronia splendens)

Oslari Moth (Eacles oslari)

Pine Devil Moth (Citheronia sepulcralis)

Randa Moth (Automeris randa)

This page has been visited since May 14th, 2000.

This page last updated on: January 28th, 2005

This site is designed and maintained by Jeff Ausmus.
Comments, suggestions or additional information are welcomed by Jeff at mothman15@hotmail.com.