Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island--Jeremy B. Tatum



Antheraea polyphemus

Polyphemus Moth




This is one of the largest insects in North America and, while it usually causes a sensation when seen, it is not uncommon here. In classical mythology Polyphemus was a one-eyed Cyclops who battled with Odysseus, and this is remembered by the large transparent eye-like spot in each wing. As with other saturniids, the adult has no functional proboscis and it does not feed. The male has large, feathery antennae. The most common foodplants here are alder, willow and dogwood, but I have also found the caterpillars on oak and rose. There are few things more satisfying than to watch the full-grown caterpillar pull a few leaves around it and build a tough, many-layered cocoon in which to pupate and spend the winter.

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