I thought I might end this series of blogs about moths in the Saturniidae family by turning to royalty. Two moths come to mind: the regal moth and the imperial moth. Citheronia regalis, commonly called the regal moth (a.k.a. the royal walnut moth), boasts a deeply vibrant orange and steel gray wings with lemon yellow spots. Eacles imperialis, commonly called the imperial moth, is costumed in purple (the color of royalty) and yellow. The wingspan of the regal moth can exceed six inches and that of the imperial can reach nearly seven inches! In A Girl of the Limberlost, author Gene Stratton–Porter named the imperial moth “Yellow Emperor,” and it performs a critical function in the plot, which I will not give away for those who have not yet had the pleasure of reading the novel. To lure readers to the book, I will share this link: http://avidreader25.blogspot.com/2015/05/limberlost-state-historic-site.html.
|Regal Moth, Photographed by Scott D. Werner|
There is great variation in the coloring of the imperial moth. The males often have larger areas of purple while the females have more yellow, making the females appear more speckled. The purple sections of the males’ wings can veer into pink or tilt into tan.
|Imperial Moth, Photographed by Joel Mills|
Who can deny that these are magnificent moths?
|Hickory Horned Devil, Photographed by Bob Warrick|
The larva of the regal moth is the so-called “hickory horned devil.” I admit that it looks fierce, but I imagine it would resent being called diabolical. When ready to pupate, the larvae make their way down the trunks of the host trees and burrow into the ground to a depth of some six inches. There, they hollow out an oval chamber wherein they transition from the larval stage to the pupal stage. Stratton–Porter believed that the pupae work their way up through the soil—point first—before the emergence of the adult moths.
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Regal Moth|
I have never found an underground pupa, nor have I seen many of the adults. Most of those that I have witnessed have flown to the bright lights of fairgrounds.
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Cecropia Moth|
Both enjoy feasting on the leaves of a wide variety of trees, although the list differs from one to the other. The regal prefers persimmon, ash, walnut, sweetgum and many more. The imperial selects sweetgum, oak, maple, and sassafras, as well as several others.
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Female Io Moth|
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Male Io Moth|
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Luna Moth|
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Polyphemus Moth|
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Female Promethea Moth|
|My 1970s Watercolor Painting of a Male Promethea Moth|