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Males have dark brownish-black wings with a faint white postmedian line and pinkish coloring near the apical spot. Females are bright reddish-pink or a brownish color with well-developed reniform spots. Both sexes have tanish marginal borders. Their wingspan measures 7.5-9.5 cm.
C. promethea is found in the eastern half of the United States and lower parts of eastern Canada.
Mating takes place in the afternoon to early evening, and egg-laying begins at night. Females are attracted to lights, but males are not. Females lay 2-12 eggs in a singe cluster on host plants. The early instar larvae feed together on the underside of leaves. They are greenish yellow and striped with black. The older larvae are solitarty and are almost all green except for 4 red knobs above the thorax and 1 yellow knob on the eighth abdominal segment. On the lower branches of the food plant, the larva makes a cocoon within a leaf, firmly attaching the petiole to the branch. C. promethea has 1 brood in the north (which flies from June-July) and 2 or more broods in the south (which flies from March-May and again from July-August).