Polyphemus moths, 15-centimeter (6-inch) wide silk moths, are one of the most common moths across Canada and the United States. According to Wikipedia, “the caterpillar can eat 86,000 times its weight at emergence in a little less than two months.”
Manitoba-based YouTube channel Nature North documents the life cycle of Polyphemus Moth, from eggs to instars to grown moths, in the video above. Onscreen annotations describe each phase of the creature’s development.
On Antheraea polyphemus in the Montana Field Guide:
“The adult Polyphemus Moths emerge from their cocoons in the late afternoon, and mating occurs the same day from late evening to early morning. The females lay eggs that evening, singly or in groups of 2 or 3 on leaves of the host plant. The newly-hatched larvae eat their eggshells, and larvae of all ages are solitary. The older larvae eat an entire leaf and then cut the leaf petiole at the base so it falls to the ground, perhaps a defensive measure to eliminate signs of feeding…”
“The Polyphemus Moth overwinters as a pupa in a large, silken cocoon. Although the oval-shaped cocoons usually fall to the ground with the host plant leaves they are wrapped in, they can occasionally be found in the winter still attached to the host plant by a small amount of silk thread. These moths typically rest suspended from a branch or twig during the day, with their wings folded above their back. The undersides of the wings are surprisingly cryptic for such a large moth. If these moths are disturbed when at rest, they often drop to the ground, and flap their wings once giving the appearance of a sudden ‘jump’. With the eyespots exposed, this makes an impressive display which may startle potential predators.”
Previously from Nature North on TKSST: Raising wood frogs, from eggs to tadpoles to adults in 7 weeks.
Bonus: Nature’s Masters Of Disguise.