Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mammoth moth

There's always something interesting to see at my friend's house! One week it was a show bird, a dove. Another it was a long horned steer. This week she spotted a mammoth moth. Pretty isn't it!


Polyphemus moths leave their cocoons in the afternoon in early May. Neither the male or female adult moths eat; in fact, they don't even have mouthparts! As soon as she has fully emerged and rested (later that night), the female begins releasing a type of scent calle "pheremones." Male moths detect the scent from far away and come to mate with her.

it is part of the giant Silk Moth family. Species detail--



Life history
Adults emerge from their cocoons in the late afternoon, and mating occurs the same day from late evening to early morning. Females lay eggs that evening, singly or in groups of 2 or 3 on leaves of the host plant. Newly-hatched caterpillars eat their eggshells, and caterpillars of all ages are solitary. Older caterpillars eat an entire leaf and then cut the leaf petiole at the base so it falls to the ground, perhaps a defensive measure to eliminate signs of feeding.

NatureServe Global Status
G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. See attached range picture.

Flight
One brood in the north from May-July, two broods in the Ohio Valley and southward from April-May and from July-August, two broods in the California Sierra Nevada, several broods throughout most of the year in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

Wing span
3 15/16 - 5 7/8 inches (10 - 15 cm).
Caterpillar hosts: A wide variety of trees and shrubs including oak (Quercus), willow (Salix), maple (Acer), and birch (Betula) Adult food: Adults do not feed.

sources here and here. Photo credit Elizabeth Prata

5 comments:

c'estbonne said...

Lovely post, thanks! I saw one of these moths a couple of weeks ago, and was awed by how beautiful it was. Your post helped me identify and learn about it. Thank you :)

jan woodlums said...

Its a beauty!!wdsta1

j ferg said...

This moth was in Washington state, Olympic Peninsula, just a couple days ago.

Anonymous said...

One hit me quite hard in the neck this morning near Yakima, Washington. It startled me & I reached up, grabbed it from my neck & threw it to the ground. I didn't mean to hurt it, I was just startled. I think it was ok though because a little later it disappeared so I think it recovered & flew off. My daughter saw a group of them flying around in circles a little later

Elizabeth Prata said...

That'll sure make you do the ninja dance, one of those huge babies flying into your neck! Glad it was spotted flying around later :)