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Condalia Silk Moth

Agapema anona

Photo © by Michael Plagens

This colorful caterpillar is nearly mature and will soon venture closer to the ground and construct a tough cocoon of silk probably within a a cluster of dense old twigs. It is feeding on foliage of Bitter Condalia (Condalia globosa), a shrubby and very spiney Sonoran Desert plant. Observed in the Ajo Mountains of western Pima Co., Arizona, USA. March 2010.

Saturnidae -- Silk Moth Family

Adults of the Condalia Silk Moth in the Sonoran Desert emerge very early in the spring, late January or February after spending 9 or so months within their cocoon. The eggs are laid upon twigs of Bitter Condalia and sometimes the related Graythorn just as the the new spring leaves are emerging. The brightly colored caterpillars can be found from late February into April. The colors suggest a warning coloration to birds that the hairs may be irritating or stinging. This insect is closely associated with plants in the buckthorn family (rhamnaceae) because the larvae (caterpillars) feed on the leaves; the adult moths do not feed and live just a short time.

Photo from Moths of Southeastern Arizona, Bruce Walsh

Adult male of Condalia Silk Moth. Notice that the male has feathery antennae. The female's are more thread-like. Moths of Southeastern Arizona.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010