Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Callosamia securifera (Maassen)
Orig. Comb: Samia securifera Maassen 1873
Seasonal forms but no described ssp.
Yellowish brown with yellowish angular cell spots. Spring femles in the extreme south are often yellowish-orange. Males are darker than females and often missing hind wing cell spots. (from Butterflies and Moths of North America)
se US (LA-FL-VA) - Map
Florida, Georgia (southern & coastal), Alabama (southern 2/3rds of the state), Mississippi (southern 2/3rds of the state), Louisiana (much of the state where the host is found), South Carolina (eastern 2/3rds), North Carolina (coastal counties, Sandhills and along the counties of the Fall-line in central NC) & se. Virginia (?)
SE USA in lowland wetlands and associated forests
February-October in Florida
March-September across most of the range
March/April-August in NC
Caterpillars feed on Sweetbay, Magnolia virginiana.
Some reports put it on other Magnolia sp. (i.e. big leaf magnolia & similar plants?)
Eggs are laid in short rows on the host plant leaves. Larvae feed gregariously at first, becoming solitary in later instars.
Searching for the cocoons is perhaps the best way to collect these moths; however, based on personal experiences collecting this species across much of its range, greater than half will be out of reach and often parasitized.
It's also important to mention that most sweetbay trees keep their leaves throughout the year and searching for the cocoons among the foliated hosts takes effort; therefore, the development of "search image" is helpful. I also recommend wading boots or a pair of chest waders since this species is most common in mucky flood plains and lowlands where its host plant is abundant.
While looking for cocoons, there are parts of the range where you might also want to be wary of wildlife...there's the risk of wild pigs, certain snake species & gators.
NOTE: This species is subject to some seasonal variation. Typically, the Spring forms are lighter and brighter and the summer generations are usually darker and/or more washed out in appearance.