Sunday, November 21, 2010

Polyphemus Moth Cocoon

Earlier this summer I stumbled upon a mating pair of Polyphemus moths. I took the female home, she laid some eggs and I let her go. I then attempted rearing the caterpillars in captivity but this was my first time doing this. Sadly I failed, they all died shortly after. Normally this would be the end of the story but it's not. You see, I was feeding the caterpillars leaves to the oak and maple trees we have in our yard... what I didn't expect was the Polyphemus moth laying eggs on them before departing.

Hidden in the fallen leaves at the base of our willow oak is the cocoon to a Polyphemus moth.

It's empty of course. It's far to late in the year to find adults.

I showed this picture to someone who's opinion I trust is correct. She raises several species of giant silk moth in captivity. She said the texture, shape, size, and even it's location (the leaf litter around oak and maple trees) are exactly what she'd expect a Polyphemus moth to produce. It's also rock solid. I can't believe how hard this thing is.

So while I may have missed this one emerging, hopefully next year's generations will find my trees to be appetizing and I'll get another chance in the spring.