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Cecropia Moth Caterpillar Molting

The caterpillar, or larval, stage of a butterfly or moth is the only stage in which the insect has chewing mouth parts.  Hence, it is the stage during which a great deal of eating takes place.  As the caterpillar eats, it grows larger, and eventually molts its skin, revealing a new, larger skin underneath the old.  A cecropia caterpillar molts four times before spinning its cocoon and pupating. The cecropia caterpillar in this photograph has just molted its skin, which is attached to the plant just above the caterpillar’s head. If you look closely, you can see where the colored tubercles were.  Within an hour of when this photograph was taken, the caterpillar had eaten its skin.


4 responses

  1. I have to find one of those. I can’t believe them!!!! Where can I find one?

    July 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm

  2. It’s hard to tell you where to look, as they eat and are found on so many host trees…apple, poplar, maple, ash, cherry, birch, box elder, etc. Luck plays a big part in finding one ( a friend found the ones I’m photographing — can’t take credit – they were on an ornamental cherry).

    July 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm

  3. Last year I shot one of these on one of our tree peonies…tasty foliage I guess. Unfortunately it succumbed to some tachnid larvae. I love the blue suede shoes.

    July 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm

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