Antheraea polyphemus    




common name     Polyphemus Moth

habitat
Deciduous boreal forest in central and northern AB, local in the parkland and prairie river valleys.

seasonality
Adults are found primarily from late May to late June.

identification
No other species can be confused with this distinctive moth. The tan colouration with the transparent eyespots on the fore- and hindwings are unique. There is some variation in the ground colour of the wings, with some individuals tending to a darker grey-tan and little or no pink band on the outside of the subterminal line.
D. Macaulay image and Royal Alberta Museum page


life history
Overwinters as a pupa in a large, silken cocoon. Although the oval-shaped cocoons usually fall to the ground with the host plant leaves they are wrapped in, they can occasionally be found in the winter still attached to the host plant by a small amount of silk thread. These moths typically rest suspended from a branch or twig during the day, with their wings folded above their back. The undersides of the wings are surprisingly cryptic for such a large moth. If these moths are disturbed when at rest, they often drop to the ground, and flap their wings once giving the appearance of a sudden 'jump'. With the eyespots exposed, this makes an impressive display which may startle potential predators. Polyphemus was a giant cyclops in greek mythology, and the polyphemus moth presumably received its name to reflect the large eyespots on its wings.

conservation
Although there is some variation in the year-to-year abundance of this species, it is usually common

diet info
McGugan (1958) reports larval collections from 26 different trees and shrubs, but over half of the records were obtained from White Birch (Betula papyrifera). Larvae also feed on Trembling Aspen, Red Osier Dogwood, and occasionally Pin- and Choke Cherry, Hawthorn, and Serviceberry. Other confirmed host plants in AB are willows (Salix bebbiana and Salix discolor).

range
The polyphemus is the most widely distributed silkmoth in North America, occuring coast to coast in southern Canada and the U.S., south to Arizona. Known as far north as Zama City in extreme northwestern Alberta.

people
species page editorRobinson, E. 
species page authorSchmidt, B. C. 

quick link
http://entomology.museums.ualberta.ca/searching_species_details.php?s=263

 

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