Species Antheraea polyphemus - Polyphemus Moth - Hodges#7757
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Bombycoidea (Silkworm, Sphinx, and Royal Moths)
Family Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths)
Subfamily Saturniinae (Silkmoths)
Species polyphemus (Polyphemus Moth - Hodges#7757)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
described in 1776 by Cramer, who originally placed it in genus Phalaena
Explanation of Names
Polyphemus was the mythological one-eyed cyclops, mentioned in The Odyssey of Homer.
Adult: large, brown, with a small round eyespot near the middle of the forewing, and a huge round or elliptical eyespot near the middle of the hindwing. Males (below, left) have much smaller bodies but much larger and more feathery antennae than do females (below, right). There is a lot of variability in this species.
Larva: body large, bright green, with red and silvery spots below setae, and oblique yellow lines running through spiracles on abdomen; diagonal streak of black and silver on ninth abdominal segment; head and true legs brown; base of primary setae red, subdorsal and lateral setae have silver shading below; end of prolegs with yellow ring, and tipped in black
Widespread in North America: southern Canada southward. Most widespread North American saturniid: found in all Canadian provinces except Newfoundland. Found in virtually every one of the continental United States
Deciduous forests, orchards, some wetlands. Adults (imagos) of both sexes frequent at lights.
In southern United States, adults fly April–May and July–August (2 broods); in northern part of range, adults fly from May to July (1 brood).
Larvae present March to November
Larvae feed on leaves of broad-leaved trees and shrubs, including birch, grape, hickory, maple, oak, willow, and members of the rose family.
Adults do not feed.
Two or more generations per year in the south, one in the north. Cocoon (shown below) is often prominent in winter, left hanging from a host plant and easy to spot. Cocoons are also spun in leaf litter.
Females call (release pheromone) from about 10 pm to 4 am; the restricted hours aid reproductive isolation from other silkmoth species.(1)
Adults of Cecropia Moth
) have a white line across middle of forewing and crescent-shaped eyespots - as do other species of Hyalophora
Adults of Callosamia
species have an eyespot near the tip
of the forewing, and usually have angular or wedge-shaped markings near the middle of both wings
Larvae of Luna Moth
) are superficially similar but have a yellow spiracular stripe on the first 8 abdominal segments
Powell, J. A. & P. A. Opler, Moths of Western North America, p. 239, Pl. 37.6(2)
Tuskes, pp. 177-179, map 31, plate 22--adult, plate 6--larva, fig. 31--cocoon (3)
Arnett and Jacques, #250 (4)
Covell, p. 49, plates: 1 #15--larva, 2 #4--cocoon, 9 #7--imago (5)
Himmelman, plate A-5, note p. 116, discusses origin of name (6)
Holland, pp. 87-89, plate IX, figs. 10--antennae, 41--larva, 42--cocoon (7)
Moth Photographers Group
- species account with photos of living and pinned adults.
Caterpillars of Eastern Forests
live larva image by David Wagner and Valerie Giles, plus description, foodplants, seasonality, life cycle (USGS)
Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands
live larva image by Jeffrey Miller, plus description, foodplants, seasonality (USGS)
Lynn Scott, Ontario
live adult images plus description, foodplants, flight season
pinned adult image
pinned adult image and foodplants (Dale Clark, Texas)
adult images and dates (Larry Line, Maryland)
distribution in Canada
list of provinces (CBIF)
|1.||The Diversity of Life|
Edward O. Wilson. 1992. Belknap.
|2.||Moths of Western North America|
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.
|4.||Simon & Schuster's Guide to Insects|
Dr. Ross H. Arnett, Dr. Richard L. Jacques. 1981. Fireside.
|5.||Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths|
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
|7.||The Moth Book|
W.J. Holland. 1968. Dover.