Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Ailanthus silkmoth
Samia cynthia (Drury, 1773)

Family: Saturniidae
Subfamily: Saturniinae
Identification: Wings are olive brown to brown with wide pinkish median bands. Each wing has a large crescent-shaped transparent spot edged with gold.
Wing Span: 4 1/8 - 5 1/2 inches (10.5 - 14 cm).
Life History: Adults fly during the day. In the evening, females lay eggs on the host plant in rows of 10-20. The eggs hatch in 2-3 weeks and the young caterpillars feed in tight groups. Older caterpillars are solitary feeders. The grayish cocoons are attached to the main petiole of a leaf, and may drop to the ground if the main petiole falls off in autumn.
Flight: One brood from June-July.
Caterpillar Hosts: The introduced Chinese tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima).
Adult Food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Cities and suburbs where Ailanthus grows.
Range: The Ailanthus silkmoth was introduced from China in the late 1800s in an attempt to establish a silk industry in the eastern United States. Its current distribution is spotty along the Atlantic coast from Connecticut to Georgia and west to northern Kentucky.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: TX - Presumed extinct.
Management Needs: None reported.
Comments: NULL