Subject: Type of Moth?
Location: St. Louis, MO
July 20, 2015 6:50 am
I was out walking the dog this morning (July 20th), at about 8AM, when I saw this poor beauty dying on the sidewalk! They are about 8 inches or so wide, from wing tip to wing tip. I found them by a park (Fox Park) in the southern inner city area of west St. Louis. Help me correctly mark their grave!
This beauty is a Polyphemus Moth, and adults do not eat, only living long enough to mate and reproduce, so while she is not long for this world, your assessment that she is dying might be premature. Because of the antennae, this appears to be a female Polyphemus Moth, and if she has not yet laid eggs, she is likely heavy with eggs, meaning it takes tremendous energy to fly. Place her in a sheltered location and she may take flight after dark. If she has not mated, she will release pheromones to hopefully attract a mate. If she has mated, she can lay fertilized eggs. The eggs will hatch in about a week, and you can release the caterpillar on an appropriate food plant. According to BugGuide, the caterpillars will eat the leaves of: “birch, grape, hickory, maple, oak, willow, and members of the rose family.”