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.