Saturday, June 18, 2011
The grandchildren wanted to care for her, so Mommy gently picked it up and put it in an old cardboard box. The grandchildren named her Annie. They put leaves and twigs inside the box to keep Annie comfortable.
Annie barely moved. We wondered if she was injured.
The children put ripe fruit in her box to tempt her appetite.
Mommy put sugar water in there as well.
Annie fluttered her wings gently, and hardly moved at all.
Mommy called around first to bird and animal rescue shelters (who could not help) and then the Insectarium. They were able to identify Annie. She was not a butterfly, but a moth. A hylophor cecropia - the biggest moth in North America.
I'd never seen one before. She really was big! The life cycle of the cecropia is only 7 - 10 days. The female lays around 300 eggs, then goes into a sort of dream-like state. The male continues on to fertilize as many as 3 females and then he too goes into a torpor. The adults do not eat (so much for the fruit, but it gave the children a sense of responsibility and they felt that they were taking good care of Annie).
We also learned by the size of her antennae that Annie was not a She - She was a He.
Five days later His life cycle ended.