The Promethea moth (Callosamia promethea) is a large insect that can be spotted easily during the month of May and in early June, spread throughout the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The Promethea insect (Callosamia promethea) is a member of the Saturniidae family consisting of a total of 1,300 species! Spicebush moth is another that is sometimes used name for the Promethea moth, in reference to one of the Promethea silkmoth's most common host plants (Lindera benzoin). The luna moth, cecropia silkmoth, rosy maple moth, and the Columbia silkmoth are all members of the same family as the Promethea moth.
Certain species of Promethea moths' caterpillars spin a huge silken cocoon to become pupa and this is what gives these silk moths their name. Dru Drury was the first person to describe this insect in 1773 and this moth (C. promethea) uses Batesian mimicry as a tool to shield itself from its predators. Males of the Promethea silkmoth imitate the poisonous pipe plant, swallowtail (Battus philenor), to ward off predators.
If you enjoy our article on the Callosamia promethea, do visit our other articles on the rosy maple moth or the gypsy moth too.
What do they prey on?
Spicebush, ash, tulips, lilacs, sassafras, and sweet-bay leaves
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
How long are they?
3-4 in (7-10 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Dark brown or reddish-brown
What are their main threats?
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Forests and deciduous woodland
Promethea Moth Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a Promethea moth?
The Promethea moth (or the spicebush moth) is a large insect.
What class of animal does a Promethea moth belong to?
The Callosamia promethea belongs to the class of Insecta.
How many Promethea moths are there in the world?
The exact population of these moths is not currently known.
Where does a Promethea moth live?
These moths from North America inhabit a wide range that stretches from the eastern coast of the U.S.A to the Great Plains in the west. A typical Promethea moth habitat primarily consists of host trees, alongside many other environmental factors which help them to grow and survive.
What is a Promethea moth's habitat?
These massive insects are moths from North America and prefer inhabiting woods without harming the trees that they inhabit. Promethea larvae hatch from eggs and feed on their host plants before pupating in the winter and hanging from trees. These silkmoths are mostly present in deciduous woodlands where there are different host trees like the spicebush, white ash, tulip tree, and sassafras.
Who do Promethea moths live with?
Especially during breeding and mating seasons, it is not unusual to spot these insects cohabiting. However, they generally avoid living in groups.
How long does a Promethea moth live?
The Promethea moth lifespan is fairly short. They don't eat much and can only survive for a week (as an adult). Due to its unusual life cycle, the average Promethea moth life span is shorter than that of other species of butterflies and moths.
A Promethea moth life cycle goes through various different Promethea moth growth stages. To summarise these stages, it hatches, eats, grows, pupates, emerges, mates, lays eggs, and then dies.
How do they reproduce?
Adult female Promethea silkmoths release pheromones to lure a male to mate. The female hides while waiting for the male to detect her pheromones and approach her. The female releases these pheromones at a certain time of day known as 'calling time'. So, the male looks for a suitable adult female mate in the afternoon and early evening, with most mating taking place between 4 p.m. and sunset.
The female lays rows of four to 10 eggs on the upper side of the host plant's leaf at night. Young larvae caterpillars feed in groups, while older caterpillars feed alone. Females of these insects are polyandrous, which means they pair with several males. However, not all females engage in this activity, and some prefer mating with a single male-only.
What is their conservation status?
Their status is currently Not Evaluated by the ICUN.
Promethea Moth Fun Facts
What do Promethea moths look like?
A Promethea moth female looks visually different from a male, as males and females show characteristics of sexual dimorphism. The male's body is black while its wings are black with brown edges, and slight brown lines with pink forewing tips can be seen on his Promethea moth eyes. On the other hand, a female's wings are dark brown to reddish-brown in color, with brown borders and well-developed tanned cellular spots complimenting them.
How cute are they?
Whilst they are not stereotypically cute, the colors and patterns on their wings make them attractive insects.
How do they communicate?
Promethea moth females release pheromones that are used as mating calls to attract potential males. When it comes to responding to predators, the Promethea moth has an interesting technique up its sleeve called Batesian mimicry. This is a method where the Promethea moth assumes the form of a venomous species to keep its predators away.
How big is a Promethea moth?
Their caterpillars can grow up to 1.77 in (4.5 cm) in length while resting and they tend to grow up to 2.36 in (6 cm) when active. These moths spread out with a wingspan of approximately 3-4 in (76-102 mm). Females, like other moth species, are bigger than males.
How fast can a Promethea moth fly?
The Promethea moth's flight speed has not been officially recorded.
How much does a Promethea moth weigh?
The Promethea moth's weight has not been officially recorded, but we do know that their caterpillars can eat 86,000 times their body weight!
What are their male and female names of the species?
They do not have specific names for male and female Promethea moths.
What would you call a baby Promethea moth?
Promethea moth babies are called Promethea moth larvae, a Promethea moth caterpillar, or a Promethea moth cocoon, based on the stage they are at in their life cycle.
What do they eat?
A Promethea moth diet (as an adult) does not exist. The caterpillar, on the other hand, tends to eat a wide range of plants. Their food includes leaves of the spicebush, white ash, tulip, lilac, sassafras, and the sweet bay tree. These nutrients in their food are essential for each of the Promethea moth growing stages and for these insect caterpillars to finally become an adult moth.
Are they poisonous?
Promethea moths are not poisonous. Although, as a response to threat, they mimic poisonous creatures to fend off predators.
Would they make a good pet?
Most probably not, as Promethea moth care and rearing are very complex. Despite this, some evidence suggests that since the adults of these giant silk moths (from the Saturniidae family) don't eat, they can be held for a day or two in order to let them mate and produce eggs and larva.
Did you know...
Promethea moth eggs are laid on various host trees and shrubs, resulting in Promethea moth larva. The wild cherry tree, tulip tree, and magnolia tree are their preferred host plants, but once they start feeding on a certain species, they may not feed on anything else.
The main cecropia vs. Promethea moth difference is that, even though the female Promethea moth is similar to the cecropia in appearance, it is much smaller in size. Both have a white dot in the center of each wing and an eyespot near the top of the front wing, but the female Promethea moth is a deeper red-brown than the cecropia, while the male Promethea moth is dark brown without any white markings.
Generalizing what we already understand of butterflies and moths' communication mechanisms, we can learn that moths initially grew ears in order to sense their greatest enemy: the bat.
Promethea moths have at least three broods, one in its northern range, and at least two in southern ranges.
How to tell the difference between a male and female Promethea moth
The sexual dimorphism of Promethea moths is striking. Male moths have a much deeper coloration than females. The male has dark brown wings, and the female has reddish-brown wings. Also, a male Promethea moth has bigger, more hairy antennae than a female.
How many eggs are in a Promethea moth cluster?
These insects lay down in a single cluster of four to 10 eggs on the upper side of their host plant stems.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects, including the rove beetle or the imperial moth.
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