We need your help in recording Giant Silk Moth observations in Vermont. You can report your sightings to our iNaturalist project. Cocoons can be found by searching branches of trees and shrubs, and looking at leaves that remain attached to the trees. Luna Moth cocoons can be harder to find, as they will be in the leaves on the ground. Cocoon Watch calls on community naturalists across the state to find and document silk moth cocoons by photographing them and uploading your observations to The Giant Silk Moth Coccoon Watch project on iNaturalist. If you can, return to the location of the cocoon in spring and document if the moth (or a parasite) emerges.

THree Easy Steps for Cocoon watch

1. Search and Discover Cocoons

As you stroll outside this November, check trees and shrubs of host plants for these large cocoons. When you find one, photograph it to share your observation with the project.

Most Vermont species of Giant Silk Moth attach their cocoons to trees, shrubs and other vegetation, either directly to twigs and branches (Cecropia Moth, Polyphemus Moth), within a leaf that is reinforced to remain attached to a twig (Promethea Moth), or to the trunk of a tree (Columbia Moth). Luna Moths create their cocoon within curled leaves as well, but do not reinforce the leaf, so their cocoons fall to the forest floor with the leaves and can be difficult to find. Cocoons may be located higher in the branches (binoculars are helpful!), or closer to the ground in younger host trees and shrubs. Cocoons are large (up to two inches), and may be spun in more protected parts of the twigs and branches, or may hang from a twig, appearing to be the last leaf remaining on the plant.

2. Share Your Observations

Join the Vermont Giant Silk Moth Cocoon Watch project on iNaturalist and post your observations! New to iNaturalist? Visit the getting started page.

3. Identify Your Sightings

If you don’t know which species it is, just identify it as a Giant Silk Moth and others will help with identifications. But here’s a quick guide to help you find and identify these cocoons:

Cecropia cocoon © Ryan Hodnett

Cecropia Moth

Credit: The Caterpillar Lab

Promethea Cocoon on Green Ash. hobiecat on iNaturalist

Promethea Moth

 

Credit: The Caterpillar Lab

Polyphemus cocoon ©Kerry Givens

Polyphemus Moth

Luna Moth

Credit: The Caterpillar Lab

© Rob Hannawacker

Columbia Moth