Hammock Shaped Cocoon

 
A hammock, say of three meters length, is a cradle, which you can hang in between two trees. As you get in, your weight may snap the hammock shut to create a soft and comfortable cocoon. You may lie back, read your favorite book or simply doze off. Made of acrylic or other fabrics, the hammocks provide you quite summer evenings to enjoy your vacation.

The Cercopia moth caterpillar spins a hammock shaped cocoon nearly 4 inches long, and attaches it full length on the underside of a twig or a branch.

The caterpillar is 4 inches long, greenish blue and has two rows of yellow projections along the back. The first three projections are shaped like balls, which bear black spines.

The caterpillar eats leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs like ash, birch, box, alder elm, maple, poplar, wild cherry, plum, willow, apple, lilac etc.. In early fall, the mature caterpillar spins a hammock shaped cocoon. It takes several days to complete the cocoon. The cocoon is tough, brown in color and is weather resistant. The cocoon is hung close to the underside of a protected location, a twig or a branch. It is always fastened lengthwise. The caterpillar may use a leaf wrap to give its cocoon extra protection. A loose valve is spun at the pointed top of the cocoon.

The caterpillar then enters the pupal stage and undergoes development. The cocoon case being weatherproof, it enables the pupa survive colds less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Pupation lasts throughout winter. A fully developed Cercopia moth emerges from mid May to early July. There is one generation of the moth each year. The moth emerges from the cocoon in mid mornings.

The Cercopia moth is the largest moth in North America. Its wing span is nearly 6 inches. The moth is beautifully colored. Its red body is striped white. Wings are reddish brown with crescent shaped white markings and distinct eyespots on the upper tips. The edges of the wings are light tan.

The moth occurs in Rocky Mountains in the US and southern Canada. The adult moths do not eat. They survive for a short period before which they mate. The female lays rows of eggs on both the sides of leaves of the host tree or shrub. The eggs hatch into larvae in about a fortnight.
     
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