Cynthia's range

Mothman617 mothman617 at
Tue Jul 6 20:53:54 EDT 1999

Philosamia cynthia is only locally common in North America. The moth is usually
seen in and around Urban areas from Massachusetts southward along the eastern
seaboard to probably Georgia. The larva feeds upon Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus
altissma) which is naturalized from Asia as well as the moth in question. There
have been specimens of this taken as far west as Pittsburgh, Buffalo NY and
Cincinatti OH, (from what I have heard or read). Wherever the food plant grows
in abundance, there should be Cynthias. For a long time Tree of heaven grew in
cities with soil that many native trees will not grow. It looks like overgrown
Sumac. It can be found in railroad yards, vacant lots, industrial areas and
along highways. I live near Boston and P. cynthia is quite common there as well
as the surrounding suburbs. I have even found wild specimens of this in the
rural area where I live. The males fly by day in September here. I have raised
these as well and will feed upon Ash (Fraxinus), Lilac, and Privet as well as
Tree of Heaven. The western range of this (my own hypothesis) is likely Chicago
area or St. Louis area. I have traveled  the western US and have not seen this
tree growing beyond the Mississippi valley. I hope I was of help.
M. Arey

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