Polyphemus Moth

I found the remains of this large, magnificent moth the other day, on the path to the barn. It is a Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus), part of the Giant Silkworm Moth family. This is the first large Silkworm Moth I’ve seen here; they are usually nocturnal. Check out the antennae which look like tiny feathers. (Ellen Sousa photo)


These guys spin their cocoons using silk, but not the same kind of silk traditionally used for textiles, which is produced by the different (but related) Silkmoth (Bombyx mori). Early colonists to this country tried with little success to develop a silk textile industry around the American Silk Moths.

Since Polyphemus Moths obviously live around here, you’d think that I would have at least spotted their caterpillars, which are conspicuous: (Photo by Bruce Marlin).

800px-Polyphemus_caterpillar_bigThe host (food) plants of these caterpillars include shrubs and trees in the Oak, Birch, Maple, Willow and Rose families, all of which abound on our property. So I’m going to keep a closer eye out for these cats which produce only one generation each year in New England.

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