Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Lifecycle of Our guest, Mega Moth

On May 21st, while at Cornerstone Bapt. Church for Cole's end of year band concert, Ian spotted this Polyphemus moth on the sidewalk near an entrance. Fearing the kids would freakout over this size of the moth and harm her, we moved her to the bushes & went inside for the concert. After the concert, she was still on the we brought her home to see if she would lay eggs & we could watch & photograph the whole cycle of moth/egg/caterpillars/cocoon/moth. (We had done once before w/ a Polyphemus moth...pre-digital camera days.) Here are the pictures of our guest moth and the life cycle....

May 21st - Moth began laying eggs.

About 1 week later all those eggs (and there was a BUNCH of them!) started hatching. The caterpillars were wee tiny, but started growing immediately.
We fed them maple leaves.

3 days after hatching.

6 days.

11+ days.


3 weeks.

By this time, the container was getting pretty crowded, so we released all but 3 of the caterpillars into the maple tree. Those little guys knew exactly what to do...climb UP towards the leaves.


July 12th - only 3 left & they were HUGE!

Everything goes better on a Ritz!

" Don't ya just love the little green filled ones? " Name that movie!?!

The caterpillars made their cocoons on July 15, 16th & 17th. It's amazing how those BIG caterpillars tucked themselves into these relatively small cocoons.

Last night, August 5th, our first moth emerged from the 1st cocoon. He was beautiful! We know it's a he because his antenae are all extra feathery. (Female antenna are rather plain.) We immediately released our new moth outside. After drying off & gaining strength he fluttered off into the search of date with a lady moth. And the cycle will begin again. (As the other 2 cocoons hatch, I'll add more pictures as needed.)

UPDATE: August 8th.... our last 2 moths emerged from their cocoons over night. We discovered a brand new male and female moth this morning. We released them outside where they dried off, gained strength and fluttered away. Hopefully they will meet up with other polphymus moths and the life cycle will continue on.

Here's a couple more pictures.

The female moth (note her plain - nonfluffy antenna) - size compared to Blake's hand.

The 'owl eyes' - a defense against birds or other big bugs. The 'eye's scare away a potential enemy that might be thinking about making the moth a tasty snack.

Cocoon - post moth emerging. A remarkably small container and hole for such a large moth.


Anonymous said...

That is so cool. What a beautiful moth and nope, I couldn't name that movie tag line...but then...I am movie challenged.
Vicki B

Anonymous said...

That is really cool! Great pictures! Thanks for taking the time to share!

Ann Mitchell

Floridacracker said...

Very, very, neat!