Today I had a visitor at my office – a stranger taking a break from the warm weather in the shade of the building. This fuzzy winged creature was a giant silk moth with a big name – Antheraea polyphemus. A spot on the back of each wing (not pictured) appears to be a large eye, causing concern for potential predators who might want to sample this hairy creature for an afternoon snack. The moth’s name comes from the giant cyclops in Greek mythology called Polyphemus.
Normally, its colors and unusual antennae help it to blend in with the foliage, but this wanderer chose a glass window for its resting spot. It was easy to notice as I was walking past. I wonder how many times I have walked past them in the woods and never saw them. After some research, I realized that I had frequently found cocoons and pupae for these while exploring the woods as a child. Unfortunately a “dictionary” or an “Encyclopedia Britannica” did not provide me identification answers as readily as the resources that we have today.
Update: July 2018
While visiting West Virginia, I found more of these moths and was able to temporarily capture one to photograph before releasing it.
You can read more about these fascinating creatures here .
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