The Regal Moth (Citheronia regalis), though beautiful in its own right, is perhaps better known for its caterpillar, known as the Hickory Horned Devil. These caterpillars get huge, reaching a length of six inches by the time they are ready to pupate. It’s range is the eastern portion of the United States, east of the Great Plains. Unfortunately it has been some time since this spectacular species has been reported in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Citheronia splendens, also known as the splendid royal moth, is a Mexican species that is closely related to the Regal moth (Citheronia regalis) and was discovered living in parts of Arizona in the early 1970’s. There is not much known about this species but it is definitely fun to rear and the resulting moth is spectacular.
The Glover’s silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia gloveri) is a smaller relative of the Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia). This beautiful species can be found along the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin from Canada to Mexico.
The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is perhaps the most popular butterfly in the world. Its large size and contrasting orange and black coloration make it highly recognizable and its annual migration of up to 3,000 miles south make it seen by more people than perhaps any other species of butterfly in the world.
The red admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, is one of the most widespread butterflies in the United States. It belongs to the Nymphalidae family and is known for its bright red forewing bands contrasted by the black and white that covers the remainder of its wings. They are fast, erratic flyers and are often confused with painted ladies, who are the same size and fly the same way. Oftentimes it is not until one actually lands that a positive identification can be made.
The Luna Moth (Actias luna) is one of the most spectacular of the giant Saturniid moths from the United States. With its green colors and long delicate tails, it is breathtaking to see live and in person, especially for the first time! According to the amazing book “The Wild Silk Moths of North America: A Natural History of the Saturniidae of the United States and Canada” by Paul M. Tuskes, James P. Tuttle and Michael M. Collins, this species can be found throughout most of the eastern part of North America. There are two seasonal forms, with those hatching in the spring being a more intense green in color whereas those hatching in the summer tend to be more yellowish. The spring forms also have a more vibrant purple outer wing margin. I have found them very easy to rear on both walnut and sweetgum, with the only real issues being overcrowding which tends to attract yellow jackets and birds, who love to eat the caterpillars, especially when using net bags on the branches of trees.