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The Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus) is a North American member of the family Saturniidae, the giant silk moths. It is widespread from locations even in northern Canada to parts of Mexico. Adult moths have tan colored wings with an average wingspan of 15 cm. The combination of its wing coloring and its unusual clear-centered eyespots on fore- and hind-wings make it very distinctive and easily identifiable. The eye spots inspire its name – from the Greek myth of the Cyclops Polyphemus. The bright green caterpillar looks similar to that of the Luna moth (Actias luna, also a saturnid). The adult moth does not have mouthparts and cannot feed, but the caterpillar eats huge amounts over the two months between hatching and pupating. Favored plants include oak, hickory, elm, maple and birch; caterpillars will also eat apple, beech, ash, willow, linden, rose, grape and pine. This species overwinters as a pupa inside a 7-8 cm long spindle-shaped cocoon, which is cemented to a tree branch or twig of the host plant.

(Bessin 2004; Kalola and Steffy 2011; Wikipedia 2011)


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