As they began to grow, and eat so much that I couldn’t keep them fed throughout the day, I experimented by adding Maple leaves as a different food source. But, they didn’t touch them -- unless you count walking across them to more lilac leaves! I knew Maples were one of their preferred foods, but apparently they have (or prefer) to remain with one food source, once they’ve begun on it.
The cecropia larvae grow through 4 stages (or instars) between hatching and spinning their cocoon. They pupate over winter and emerge as adult moths the following summer.
Here is a brand new second instar Cecropia caterpillar just after molting. The old skin is momentarily caught on a protective spine at its back end.
The second instar is certainly more colorful, with stouter pedicles supporting the protective spines.
If you look closely, you can see a row white spots on both of these caterpillars' sides. These are the spiracles, where air enters into their respiratory system.