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Rosy Maple Moths Emerging, Mating & Laying Eggs

6-13-16  rosy maple moth 059Rosy Maple Moths (Dryocampa rubicunda) are easy to recognize, with their pink and yellow woolly bodies, pink legs and pink antennae.  Many adults are emerging from their pupal cases now, having spent the winter underground as pupae. Once metamorphosis is complete, the adult moths lose no time in finding mates and laying eggs, not stopping to even eat.  These members of the family Saturniidae are most active during the first third of the night, reducing their body temperature and activity in the morning and afternoon.

Mating takes place at night on the underside of a leaf, and 24 hours later the female lays clusters of 10-30 eggs (a total of 150 – 200 eggs) on the underside of the leaves of the larvae’s host plants, most often maples and oaks.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae usually remain on the same tree throughout their larval stage.

Known as Green-striped Mapleworms, the larvae initially feed together, but become independent feeders as they age.  Mapleworms change color as they develop.  When young, most have black heads and yellow bodies, but with age their heads turns reddish-brown and their bodies assume a shade of green.

In New England there is only one brood per summer; further south, there are multiple broods.

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6 responses

  1. Emily Stone

    Is the same female really laying both the first and second broods (with different mates) or are the larvae becoming adults and laying the second brood in the south?

    June 13, 2016 at 8:30 am

    • Excellent question, Emily. The sources I used are conflicting. They all say that the reproductive behavior of the Rosy Maple Moth is not well understood. One source states that “For each new brood, rosy maple moth females find a different male. Other sources infer exactly what you suggested, that the larvae of the first brood mature and mate, producing a second brood, and that brood, at least in Florida, has time to mature and breed before winter. Upon reflecting, given that the adult moths don’t eat, I would assume that the longer summer allows more broods to mature and breed. I researched this post extensively, but came to the wrong conclusion, I’m quite sure! Thank you for catching this.

      June 13, 2016 at 10:05 am

  2. I love this dramatic photo! Thanks, Mary!

    June 13, 2016 at 8:57 am

  3. They remind me of a swirl of raspberry and lemon sorbet! 😉

    June 13, 2016 at 10:59 am

  4. Chera Van Burg

    Beautiful! Those colors are so ephemeral.

    June 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

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