Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Giant Silk Moth

So today at work I found this beautiful, huge moth just hanging out above one of the doors. I have seen moths like this before, from time to time, hanging out at the same door. But I have never taken the time to really figure out just what kind of moth it is. So today I did. The moth today seemed to be even more beautiful than others I have seen in the past.

I didn't have access to my work camera so I snapped a few pics with my phone. They turned out to be very handy. My search for moth I.D. took me to a website listing several different families of moths. I know oh so little about moths and butterflies, I wasn't sure where to start. So I skimmed throgh the list, hoping to find something that might sound right. I came to Giant Silk Moth. Well, it certainly was giant and a moth. So I clicked. It brought up a page with a picture of a moth that looked very similar to the one I had seen. I knew I was getting close.

But it wasn't quite right. The color was off, the antenae were bigger and more feathery on the one I had seen. So I read a little about this one, just to get an idea about it. It's called a Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) found in central Canada and the U.S. east of the Rockies... well, I'm in the Rockies, so that wasn't it. Then I noticed in the desctiption that there is a hybrid between this species and H. gloveri. What is H. gloveri, I wondered. So I went back and found this one.

When I saw this one, I thought for sure I had found it. The colors were closer, more of a chocolate brown. The antenae were closer. Not quite as feathery as the one I had seen. But close enough to think it could be it. But I wasn't completely satisfied. So I kept reading the description for more clues. It is located in the rocky mountain states, that fits. But then at the very bottom, it said that this species is often treated (incorrectly) as the western subspecies of H. columbia. So that made me wonder what that species looked like. When I went back through the site I was searching in, I couldn't find H. columbia. So I did another Google search. And the link I clicked on took me here. And viola. Here it was. As clear and perfectly represented as could be. The antenae were big and feathery, the chocolate colorings and markings were perfect.

I was very excited when I finally found my beautiful moth. I messaged my roommate and had her look at the images I had found. She was glad for me, but not quite as excited as I was. :)

This is the picture I took of the Columbia Silkmoth (H. columbia).

The color looks more red in this image - picture phones aren't the greatest I guess.

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