Giant Silk Moth Larva

Teresa Zieba

Winnipeg, Canada

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Featured in Backyard Macro and Closeups – May 8, 2010
Featured in Extreme Close-Ups – Oct 28th, 2009

6056 views as of Dec22, 2013
Canon Eos XT, f/16, 1/80 sec, ISO-200, focal length- 100mm

The Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) is a North American member of the family Saturniidae, the giant silk moths. It is a tan colored moth, with an average wingspan of 6 inches (15 cm). The most notable feature of the moth is its large, purplish eyespots on its two hindwings. The eye spots are where it gets its name – from the Greek myth of the Cyclops Polyphemus. The caterpillar of the Polyphemus moth can eat 86,000 times its weight at emergence in a little less than two months. It is widespread throughout much of North America, from southern Canada to parts of Mexico.The life cycle of the moth is much like that of any other saturniidae species. It lays flat, light brown eggs on the leaves of a number of host plants. When the eggs hatch small yellow caterpillars emerge. As the caterpillars age, they molt 5 times (the 5th being into a pupa). Each instar is slightly different, but on their fifth and final instar they become a bright green color with white lines and are marked by gold knobs. They feed heavily on their host plant and can grow up to 3-4 inches long. They then spin cocoons of brown silk, usually wrapped in leaves of the host plant.

Photographed in Steep Rock, Manitoba, Canada

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