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This beautiful insect is native to the chaparral hillsides of Topanga

Ceonothus Silkmoth cocoons.

On the concrete suround of the front fountain.

Ceanothus Silkmoth

The one shown in photos on this page is only hours old having emerged 

from its silken cocoon inside a breeding box at the Mermaid on January 17, 2009.

Scientific name: Hyalophora euryalus   

Family: Saturniidae - Giant Silkworm Moths


The Ceonothus silkmoth inhabits a wide variety of habitats including coastal areas, chaparral, and conifer forests, ranging from British Columbia east to western Montana, south through Washington, western Oregon, and California to Baja California.The Saturniidae family includes some of the largest and most spectacular moths in the world. The valuable textile silk comes from the larvae of a different moth family, the Bombycidae

This spectacular insect has been observed in the wild at The Mermaid only two or three times over the past nineteen years. In Summer of 2008, one of it’s cocoons was found on the ground next to one of the few Ceanothus bushes on the site.

The larva (caterpillar) feeds primarily on species of California lilac (Ceanothus). The larvae are also known to feed on other native shrubs, including laurel sumac (Malosma laurina), mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus minutiflorus) and manzanita (Arctostaphylos) species. At maturity in the fall they grow to a length of up to four inches and resemble fat, light green sausages with stubby legs. The back (dorsal) side is decorated with yellowish or reddish projections (tubercles). After feeding all summer, the larva spins a flask-shaped, silken cocoon that hangs from the host shrub.

Females glue eggs singly or in clumps on leaves of the host plant. The eggs hatch in 9-14 days and the caterpillars eat leaves. The cocoon is spun in the outer part of the host plant and is attached to a twig by only one-half its length. Flight: One brood from January-July depending on altitude and seasonal variation. Wing span: 3.5 - 5 inches.

Caterpillar host-plants include buckbrush (Ceanothus), manzanita (Arctostaphylos), gooseberry (Ribes), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), willows (Salix), alder (Alnus), and mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides). Adults (winged-stage) do not feed. Their primary mission is to live long enough to find a mate,copulate, lay their eggs and pass along their DNA.

This beautiful moth is native to the chaparral hillsides of Topanga

Lounging on a patio chair in the sun drying its wings before taking first flight.

Ceonothus Silkmoth cocoons.

On the concrete suround of the front fountain.