Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Cecropia 大蚕蛾 (Family Saturniidae, Silk Moths)

With almost a six inch wingspread, this great moth glides through the dusk or flaps gently, like a large bird, down the gloomy aisles of the forest. The male, with its extremely sensitive and widespread antennae, senses the female from miles away and flies excitedly to find her. When the two find each other, the wings, the antennae, everything about them, seem to pulsate and glow with overwhelming joy, and we become suddenly aware that many lesser animals too become touched with the frenzy of love.

Given no mouth parts with which to feed, both male and female soon die of starvation after the eggs are laid on such trees or bushes as wild rose, willows, maples and lilacs. No one can see one of the great gray caterpillars that grows from one of these eggs without a feeling of awe. The huge creature protects itself from enemies with a series of paired yellow and orange tubercles that range down the back from the head to the tail end. These bright colors evidently serve as warnings to birds to leave them alone as they are not good to eat.

Perhaps no creature of the night attracts so much attention in out country as the Cecropia moth when it is found, for the rich reddish colors, the eyes, and windows in the wings proclaim it a magnificent creation of nature. Many who see it for the first time rush it to the nearest museum expecting it to be pronounced rare and almost priceless, but their eyes have been too long closed to the beauties of the night, for though priceless in loveliness it is common in number.

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