Birds and Butterflies

Birds & Butterflies

Plants aren't the only thing living in our gardens - they are also the home of birds, butterflies, and a host of other animals and insects. Learn about our friends and foes that share our yards and neighborhoods from Julie Jansen.

 

Articles

11/30/2021 21:28

BUTTERFLIES by Julie Jansen

The Polyphemus Moth 

What do Polyphemus Moths look like? 

The Polyphemus moth is a large silk moth and is found in tan, reddish-brown, and dark brown colors. The most beautiful characteristic of the species is their hind wings that have two black or blue-lined eye spots. They also have long and bushy antennae. These moths are quite large in size and their wingspan can be up to 4-6 inches long. From being larvae when they are bright green to turning into an adult, this insect never fails to fascinate people with their beauty.

How do they communicate? 

The Polyphemus moths follow the same method of communication as other insects. They use vibrations, and body movement while communicating. The male insects generally use the antennae to find the females while the female releases pheromones to send signals. Through the help of a sense of smell and the ability to touch, these insects try to communicate and find each other. 

How fast can Polyphemus Moths move? 

Generally, the exact speed of Polyphemus moths is being studied by scientists but these insects are indeed quite active during the night. Also, the speed of these moths is determined by the speed of the wind, so moths can attain a speed of more than 50 mph. 

What do they eat? 

Primarily, the Polyphemus caterpillar diet is the leaves of different trees and shrubs such as sweet gum, birch, grape, hickory, maple, oak, willow, and members of the rose family. Many studies also suggest that the larvae also prey on the shells of their egg and the newly removed skin. 

Are they harmful? 

Many species of moths can bite and also have stings but the Polyphemus moths are not at all harmful. The adult moth is quite large in size but they generally avoid human interaction and are solitary. But a few cases show that the Polyphemus moths can cause allergies to humans and the larvae of the insects are also poisonous and can cause deaths. 

Did you know... 

An interesting fact about the Polyphemus moth is that the caterpillar of the species eats more than 86,000 times its weight. When they turn into an adult, they have a reduced mouth and do not eat. 

All about Polyphemus Moth cocoons 

The entire life cycle of a Polyphemus moth is three months which is divided into multiple stages. It takes 10 days while they are in the egg, then more than five weeks as larvae. After that the caterpillars wrap their body in leaves and make cocoons with the help of silk, the pupae stage ranges from 12-14 days. These insects then come out of their cocoons after the winter season and only live as adults for about 4 days. 

Sources: kidad.com and animaldiversity.org

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