Subject: Moth or butterfly
Geographic location of the bug: Greenville, SC
Time: 06:48 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We heard this guy flapping his wings between a wall and bookshelf in the garage. I moved the bookshelf to find him very sluggish. He wasn’t interested in flying away and when he triwd, he didn’t get far. We slid him onto some paper and transferred him to the tree. He has since flown off. He might have been traumatized. Girls say butterfly, adults are leaning towards moth. What is it?
How you want your letter signed: Pedro Aponte
Adults are correct in this matter, however this is not a “guy” but rather a female Giant Silkmoth in the genus Callosamia, probably a Tuliptree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera which is pictured on BugGuide. Male Giant Silkmoths have more feathery antennae that they use to locate females that release pheromones. Giant Silkmoths only live a few days as adults, long enough to mate and reproduce, so your assistance in releasing this Tuliptree Silkmoth back into nature garners you the Bug Humanitarian tag on the posting. Do you have a tuliptree near your garage? It is possible that the mature caterpillar left the host tree and found a secluded location to form a cocoon and to pupate, and that location was behind the bookshelf. Then we she emerged, she found herself trapped.