Subject: Lovely moth
Location: Navasota, Texas
April 24, 2015 12:06 pm
My daughter found this beautiful specimen in our garage several nights ago. I relocated him (her?) to a bush in our side yard. From looking online I thought it might be a Polyphemus, but when I compare the pictures, the colors aren’t quite right. It looks more like the Automeris sp. from Ecuador, but we live in Texas, so I’d be very curious to know what kind of moth this is. Thank you!
Signature: Curious Mom
Dear Curious Mom,
This lovely moth is a female Io Moth, and she can be differentiated from male Io Moths which have yellow instead of brown forewings. This extreme visual difference between the sexes is known as sexual dimorphism. Hindwings of both species have bold eyespots or oculi that are used to frighten predators like birds. Io Moths often rest with their hindwings covered, but when disturbed, they reveal the eyespots which effectively startle the predator into thinking it is about to be eaten by a larger creature. Io Moths like other members of the Giant Silkmoth family Saturniidae, only live a few days and do not feed as adults. Their purpose is to mate a reproduce. Handle the Caterpillar of the Io Moth with caution as they have stinging spines.
Thanks so much for your speedy reply! We have not seen any caterpillars but I appreciate the warning to steer clear. Your website is a fabulous resource, especially for someone like me with inquisitive kids. Thanks again.