Moths of North Dakota


Family Saturniidae: Giant silk moths

Diagnosis: Mouthparts vestigial; fw venation trifid; fws without retinaculum, hws without frenulum; f/and or hw with large ocellate or cresentic discal spots (reniform spots).

Diversity: Worldwide nine subfamilies, 165 genera and 1,480 species; North America has three subfamilies, 19 genera and 72 species; three subfamilies, 8 genera and 10 species occur in the Dakotas.

Checklist numbers: 7704- 7770.

Biology: Larvae are foliage feeders on woody plants, some species oligophagous, others polyphagous (have a wide range of host plants). Winter is passed in a tough cocoon anchored to a branch or in leaf litter. Some species have multi-year life cycles, overwintering as eggs or partially grown larvae. Larger species may have normal population densities as low as 2 per km2.


moth image

moth image

Further reading:

Collins, Michael M.  1984.  Genetics and ecology of a hybrid zone in Hyalophora (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae). Univ. Calif. Publ. Entomol.  104: 1-93.

Ferguson, Douglas C. 1971. Fascicle 20.2A Bombycoidea Saturniidae Citheroniinae Hemileucinae (part) in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. pp. 1-154.

__________. 1972. Fascicle 20.2B Bombycoidea Saturniidae Hemileucinae (conclusion) Saturniinae in Dominick et al. The moths of America north of Mexico. E. W. Classey Ltd. London. pp. 155- 265.

Lemaire, Claude and JoŽl Minet. Chapter 18. The Bombycoidea and their relatives, pp. 321- 353 in Kristensen, Neils P. ed. 1999. Lepidoptera, moths and butterflies. Part 35, Vol. 1 in Handbook of Zoology. Maximilian Fischer ed. Walter de Gryter, New York. 491 pp.

Michener, Charles D. 1952. The Saturniidae (Lepidoptera) of the Western Hemisphere: morphology, phylogeny, and classification. Bull. Amer. Mus. Natr. Hist. 98: 335- 501.

Peigler, Richard S. and Paul A. Opler. 1993. Moths of western North America. 1. Distribution of Saturniidae of western North America. Contrib. C. P. Gilbert Mus. Colorado State Univ. Fort Collins, Colorado. 23 pp.

Riotte, J. C. E. and Richard S. Peigler. 1980(81).  A revision of the American genus Anisota (Saturniidae).  J. Res. Lepid. 19(3): 101-180.

Scoble, Malcom J. 1992. The Higher Ditrysia, Chapter 12, pp. 290- 341 in The Lepidoptera: form, function, and diversity. Oxford Univ. press. 1982. 404 pp.

Tuskes, Paul M., James P. Tuttle, and Michael M. Collins. 1996. The wild silk moths of North America. A natural history of the Saturniidae of the United States and Canada. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, N.Y. 250 pp.



Last updated: 03/27/02

Gerald M. Fauske
Research Specialist
202 Hultz Hall
Fargo, ND 58105

Published by the Department of Entomology 

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