Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Promethea silkmoth
Callosamia promethea (Drury, 1773)


Family: Saturniidae
Subfamily: Saturniinae
Identification: Males and females differ. Male body is black; wings are black with tan borders, faint tan postmedian lines, and pink near the eyespots on the forewing tips. Female wings are dark brown to reddish-brown with tan borders and well-developed tan cell spots on all wings.
Wing Span: 2 15/16 - 3 3/4 inches (7.5 - 9.5 cm).
Life History: Males seek females in the afternoon and early evening, with most mating occurring from 4 PM to sunset. At night, females lay rows of 4-10 eggs on the upperside of host plant leaves. Young caterpillars feed together while older caterpillars are solitary. Older caterpillars do not eat the leaf midvein, but cut the leaf petiole at the base so it falls to the ground, perhaps a defensive measure eliminating visual or olfactory signs of feeding. A caterpillar ready to pupate strengthens a leaf petiole with silk and then spins its cocoon inside the curled leaf. The cocoon hangs from the host plant throughout the winter.
Flight: One brood from May-July in the north, two broods from March-May and in August in the south.
Caterpillar Hosts: A broad range of plants including spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), white ash (Fraxinus americana), lilac (Syringa vulgaris), and others.
Adult Food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Deciduous woodlands.
Range: Eastern United States to the Great Plains and Maine west through southern Quebec and Wisconsin to Minnesota; south to the Florida panhandle, the Gulf coast, and east Texas.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None reported.
Comments: NULL

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