Antherea polyphemus, a Polyphemus moth sent in by my friend Manny, who found this handsome man on his car today. (Sexing this species is easy — fuzzy antennae are male, smooth antennae are female.)
First cool thing about this moth: Because of its brilliant eye spots, this moth was named after the cyclops Polyphemus from The Odyssey. Additionally, Polyphemus moths are truly giant, with an average wingspan of six inches!
Each caterpillar of this species will eat 86,000 times its own body weight in oak, birch, maple, or willow leaves before it reaches metamorphosis. Adult moths do not eat at all, because they emerge from their cocoons, mate, and lay eggs over the course of a single day. Most insects with an accelerated mating cycle don’t have mouth parts and cannot eat after completing metamorphosis, including mayflies and cicadas.
This beautiful monster is quite the specimen, indeed. Thanks for the picture, Manny! More posts to come, as my awesome friends have been sending me some great bug stuffs lately. (^_^)