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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Huge Moth


Last Thursday, this beautiful moth came to settle in our backyard. At first the girls were scared, swatting at it until it flew and hid underneath the deck. We had never seen an insect as huge as this moth before!

After some research, I believed that it was an Emperor Moth. An Emperor Moth is native to Australia though, so I thought either this moth was a heck of a long way from home or perhaps there was a similar moth native to the United States.


A Polyphemus Moth is a North American member of a family Saturniidae, the giant silk moths. We did deduce that it was male because the antennae were large and like plumes. A female Polyphemus moth will emit pheromones in which a male will fly miles in order to reach her!

The eye spots shown are where this moth gets its name, from the Greek myth of the Cyclops Polyphemus. These spots act as a defensive mechanism to ward off predators. Perhaps that is why he would periodically open his wings when the girls were on the deck playing nearby. 


This Polyphemus moth has witnessed an Earth Day planting session, near misses with a soccer ball, a water fight, endless swinging, blanket picnics and way too much screaming and giggling. With the past couple of days of rain, I figured he would seek shelter and fly elsewhere. But still he remains.


He has not moved much, especially during the days when he would remain still in one location. I wondered what he was doing for food! I then learned that these giant adult moths do not eat, their mouths are vestigial which means their mouth parts have been reduced through evolution.

They also do not live very long, only about a week.

He certainly has had the admiration of our girls who run out to the deck every morning to spot his latest resting place. But, I sure hope he sniffs out a mate soon!

Until then, he is more than welcome to call our little neck of the woods home.

2 comments :

  1. simply gorgeous pictures. how lucky that he stayed long enough for you to find your camera!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Full scientific name is Antheraea polyphemus. Read more about these spectacular moths here: http://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/47919-Antheraea-polyphemus

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