Polyphemus Moth

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A friend gave me a cocoon in early March.  I felt sure it contained a moth, but I didn’t know what kind.  I put the cocoon in a cage outside the dining room window where I could watch it.

polyphemus moth

Recently, I looked out to see this big, beautiful moth that had emerged – one I had never seen before.  It had a wingspan of about six inches.  Using my Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America by Arthur V. Evans, I discovered it was a Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) and that its range is most of the U.S. and Canada.  The information on Wikipedia was also helpful.

Close-up of eye spots on polyphemus hind wings

The moth gets its name from these big spots on the hind wings that look like eyes.  In Greek mythology Polyphemus was a giant who had one big eye.  The moth’s eye spots are thought to confuse and scare away its enemies.

Polyphemus moth just emerged from chrysalis

I took this image shortly after the moth emerged.  I think the cocoon now resembles a finely crafted miniature basket and I’m amazed that the caterpillar could create such a work of art.

This has been another fascinating adventure in the ways of nature.  My thanks to Dave Leonard for sharing the cocoon.

4 thoughts on “Polyphemus Moth”

  1. Such wonderful neighbors to give you such wonderful gifts and so neatly packaged! Your window viewing spot reminds me of a KWTO offering back in “the old days.” Do any of the Dowler 5 remember THROUGH THE CASEMENT WINDOWS?

  2. Absolutely fasinating!!!!
    What a treat to have such a marvelous experience.
    Love the photo of the “big eyes”
    Thank you for sharing through this blog.

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