The Polyphemus Moth, My New Neighbor

polyphemus moth

I sat on the grass to take a video of a tiny bug drying on my fingertip and there, next to me on the fence, was one of North America’s largest insects, a  Polyphemus Moth.

Her wings were closed against each other but as I watched she opened them up, making herself twice as big. Her soft furry body is about the size of half my pinky.  Her wingspan is about 5 inches.  She is so big I could see the shiny black dots that are the joints in her otherwise furry legs.

Worried she might be food for the chickens, I gently placed my finger under her and she walked right onto it.  I could barely feel her feet clutching my finger as I walked across the yard and placed her in the cherry tree near my studio.

The Polyphemus Moth is nocternal which may be why she was so dolcile and didn’t fly away.

She is well camouflaged on the cherry tree and it’s also one of the moth’s choice trees for laying her eggs.

Once they are adults Polyphemus moths only live about a week, long enough to mate and lay eggs.  I could tell this moth was a female by her thin antenna (the male antenna looks like long feathers).  But also by her large rounded body which is most likely filled with eggs.

The eggs take about 2 weeks to hatch, so I’ll check the cherry tree for caterpillars.  If I see any I’ll let you know.

The polyphemus moth clutching my finger
A close-up of the thin antenna and furry body
The distinguishing marking on her wing. They look like eyes to other animals making her appear bigger than she is.

10 thoughts on “The Polyphemus Moth, My New Neighbor

  1. I will try once more to comment, Maria! I must say….that moth is spectacular, as is your description of it, and the wonder you felt while it was on your finger. I’ve never seen one of those in person…but only in photos…… one of the most beautiful insects ever. The fur! The eyes! I could see your brain creating a quilt with this lovely creature in mind!
    Susan M

  2. Maria, you yourself are like a quilt, so many parts pieced together into a finely made whole: artist, scientist, teacher, caregiver, handyman, gardener, naturalist, daughter of the earth. Unique and unlike any other. Not only are you “enough”, you are amazing, and I appreciate you for what you put forth to the world. You are always showing us more than what is on the surface. Namaste.

  3. Maria – so beautiful and unusual to be handled! You do it so lovingly.
    Perhaps it is one of your totem/spiritual animal?!
    Love these close-ups.

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