July 19, 2009
I live in the Verde Valley north of Phoenix Arizona. Last night this moth came flying in the patio, hit the ceiling fan, and hit the floor hard. I helped him up off the floor onto the side of the cushion. He stayed there most of the night and in the morning he had made his way up the wall. By late afternoon he suddenly just fluttered out an into the willow tree. He was about 7 to 8 inches across and about 4 and a half inches long. What is it? and are they common in this area
Lake Montezuma, Arizona
Dear Montezuma Mom,
Exactly one year ago on 19 July 2008, when we received our first photo of the Oculea Moth, Antheraea oculea, we thought we were looking at a Polyphemus Moth with exaggerated markings. The eyespots looked heavily made up, as though they had added eye shadow. The World’s Largest Saturniidae Site indicates: “The Antheraea oculea moth (wing span 3 15/16 – 5 7/8 inches) closely resemble the widely distributed polyphemus, but oculea occur only in the Southwestern corner of New Mexico through the mountains of southern Arizona north to Flagstaff and the South Rim of the grand canyon. This subspecies/species has also been reported in Durango, Mexico. There is good reason to believe the moth also flies in western Texas (Ft. Davis) as Mike Quinn sent a left forewing found in that area.” Later on on the site: “The adults are found in oak woodlands and mixed forests. Oculea is best distinguished from polyphemus by the orange ring around each eyespot and extensive blue and black scaling on all wings. Polyphemus has a yellow ring around each eyespot and black scaling is much less pronounced. The submarginal black line of polyphemus is always trimmed by a distal pink line, while oculea have a significantly wider wider black submarginal line without the pink trim.” There is a nice Oculea Moth page documenting the life cycle on zianet.com where it is stated: “Until the early nineties, oculea was considered a subspecies of polyphemus.” The Butterflies and Moths of North America has a map with the range. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this response so he can add your sighting to the comprehensive species distribution data he is compiling.
Another Oculea Moth Sighting
August 6, 2009
You made IDing my visitor very easy! Thanks. I just wish my oculea hadn’t been around so long & had been neater. You might find my post of interest:
We have added your comment and linked to your site with a much battered but still lovely Oculea Moth.