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.
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.
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.
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.