Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

The series of photos above start with a Polyphemus caterpillar emerging from the egg. It takes about 10 days for the egg to hatch into a tiny caterpillar and about 5-6 weeks to grow into the full its size of about 3 inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter. The caterpillars are green in all instars. The 5th instar caterpillars eat a tremendous amount. I raised 40 in a 1x1x2 foot box and had to stuff it full of leaves everyday for the 5th instar caterpillars.

This series of photos shows a caterpillar beginning its cocoon and then the finished product. They are happy to spin their cocoon right out on a tabletop for you to watch. Once they start making their cocoon they seem to be unstoppable. If the partially finished cocoon is damaged the caterpillar will repair it.

The last photo shows a newly emerged moth before it has begun to expand its wings. This particular moth had a hard time getting out of its cocoon and lost some of the hair on its thorax. It expanded into a healthy adult and later mated and laid eggs.

This photo shows an adult male that was attracted by a female that I left outside the previous night. Females "call" for males by emitting pheromones that the male can detect up to several miles away. These moths only live a few days, just long enough to mate and start the next generation. The adults do not eat. Their entire energy supply is what they accumulated in the caterpillar stage. This was a larger than average moth with over a 6" wingspan.

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