2 moths for your review
For the last 2 years fall has been ushered in with the appearance of very large, dying moths. Fortunately I can get over my fear of insects if they’re in their sluggish final days and I was able to get close enough with a macro lens to get a few detailed shots. I find myself more and more fascinated with moths and their markings, but I’m terrible at identifying them. Would you mind having a look at these pictures and identifying them for me? It may be helpful to know that we are in the central Georgia region. The first is a reddish moth, probably a good 3.5 inches with its wings expanded to the point depicted in these pictures. I believe there were eye-spots underneath the top layer of wing, but they were only visible when the wings were fully expanded. I was unable to get a good picture in this position as the poor moth needed encouragement to stretch that far in its condition. This picture was taken in the fall, and it was definitely in the final stage of its life. it sat on the sidwalk out front of our apartment for a good 2 days, and when it finally expired it did so in this same position. It was just begging to be a specimen! The second moth was so huge that I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. The full wing span was at least 6-inches across, and I had no idea moths could grow so large. As you may be able to tell from the picture, the eye-spots are actually holes in the wings. We found this one dying near our apartment as well, also in the fall. It too sat sluggishly on the pavement for 2 or 3 days, and then finally disappeared. Probably carried off by an ambitious neighborhood cat. If you could help identify these moths, I would greatly appreciate it!
Frightened but Fascinated

Huckleberry Sphinx Polyphemus Moth

Dear Frightened but Fascinated,
We will try to alleviate your fear while encouraging your fascination. Your red moth is a Huckleberry Sphinx, Calasymbolus astylus (according to Holland but currently reclassified). It is a rather scarse species. It will not harm you since it has a proboscus, a tubular mouth design for sucking nectar from deep throated flowers. Your second moth is one of the Giant Silkworms, a Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. There are two generations in the South and eggs laid in the fall will winter over and hatch as caterpillars in the spring. It cn also over-winter as a cocoon. This moth does not feed as an adult since it has vestigial mouthparts and cannot feed. Neith moth has the anatomy necessary to do you any harm. You are finding dying moths in the fall since they do not survive the winter as adult. We hope you will lose your fear and expand your fascination.

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