Saturday, August 6, 2016

his imperialness

As is usual for this time of the year, another Saturniidae moth has appeared in my life. The Saturniidae family includes the giant silk moths, royal moths and emperor moths.

Recently, I found a very large
imperial moth—yellow and muted purple like an old bruise—resting near my front porch. This is one species in which the male and female look very different: males are slightly smaller and have more purple on their wings. The one that visited me was a male. 

Found throughout the east, imperial moths are on the decline in the northern part of their range. No one knows why, since their caterpillars feed on a wide variety of trees: oak, maple, pine, sycamore, sweet gum and sassafras. All of these are readily available.

Imperial moths are featured in naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter's "Girl of the Limberlost.” First published in 1909, the novel takes place in Limberlost Swamp in Indiana and centers on a poor girl who collects Saturniidae moths and other things from the swamp to sell for much-needed money. Stratton-Porter’s "Moths of the Limberlost,” published in 1912, is a non-fiction chronicle of the giant silk moth and the childhood discovery of nature.

Despite the gray in my hair, it's quite obvious to anyone who knows me, I’m still well immersed in the childhood discovery of nature.

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