Currently viewing the category: "Giant Silk Moths"

Sphinx moth? Which species?
Hi, Bugman,
I just found your site via google and am delighted with the questions, answers, and photos! We live in southern West Virginia, near the New River Gorge, surrounded by many acres of tall second-growth poplar, oak, maple, beech, and hemlock. I found a lovely golden moth with a plump, fuzzy gold body on my office screen this morning. I think it’s a Sphinx moth, but my most complete reference book (Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths!) doesn’t have an image that matches it. Then, this afternoon my husband found four moth wings in the garage, under the 66 Mustang he’s restoring, and I thought they looked like the wings on “my” moth, so I took some photos. Here are two: one of “my” moth and “his” wings; the other of the moth (now “ours”) alone. What, please, is the name of our moth?
Many thanks,
Ellen Scheel and Julian Skaggs

Hi Ellen and Julian,
Your moth is not a Sphinx, but a Giant Silkworm or Saturnid Moth. It is a male Io Moth, Automeris io. These are beautiful moths. The female has brown upper wings. The caterpillar has stinging spines. Your moth probably did not really meet an untimely end since they live only to mate and do not eat as adults.

moth identification
Like others, I came across your site trying to identify a moth that I had never seen before. I arrived home to find it clinging to our screen door where it remained throughout the afternoon. We live in Sherwood , Wisconsin which is about 30 minutes southwest of Green Bay . I am a novice, so perhaps this moth is relatively common, but it was the first time I had never seen a moth so large or exotic! Your site has wonderful photos and kind and helpful responses. Would you be able to help me identify this moth?
Many thanks,

Hi Beccy,
Thanks for the most excellent photo of a Cecropia Moth, Hyalophora cecropia. It is often considered the largest North American moth, but some writers give that distinction to another Giant Silkworm Moth, the Polyphemus Moth.

Please identify
My kids and I found this on our sliding glass door, neighbor said it was rare, I honestly don’t know. Any help would be great. It stayed around all evening, much to my kids delight. Thanks,
Corinna Waidelich

Hi Corinna,
The scarsity of the Rosy Maple Moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, is questionable, at least with regards to your area. The caterpillars, which feed on red and silver maple leaves, can be so numerous they strip the trees. Here is a site called Moth of New Jersey that has some information. In my very outdated Holland Moth Book (1934) where it is identified as Anisota rubicunda, the author writes: “It was formerly very common in the city of Pittsburgh, but for many years past it has almost entirely disappeared, so that it is now regarded as a rather rare insect by local collectors. The disappearance of the moth is due no doubt to the combined influence of the electric lights, which annually destroy millions of insects, which are attracted to them, and to gas-wells, and furnaces, which lick up in their constantly burning flames other millions of insects. Perhaps the English sparrow has also had a part in the work of extermination.”

moth identity
Found this beautiful & large moth in my backyard last night, the second one in as many weeks, much to my kids joy. I’m pretty sure it’s a hawk-eyed moth, but would like confirmation. Also any links for more info, such as what the larva is consuming. Cheers!
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

Hi Greg,
Your moth is not a Hawkmoth, but a Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus, one of the Giant Silkworms in the Family Saturniidae. The large caterpillars eat leaves from alder, basswood, birch, chestnut, elm, hickory, maple, poplar sycamore, and oak as well as other hardwood trees.

Hey bugman,
Have any idea what this is? My neighbor found it on her deck. It is about 3-4 inches long and just sitting there. So I took a picture and hope you can id it.
Liz in Louisville KY

Hi Liz,
In September, we get photos and letters about the Hickory Horned Devil, a very impressive caterpillar, but we have never gotten a photo of the adult moth, until now. Your Regal Moth is also known as a Royal Walnut Moth, Citheronia regalis. The caterpillar feeds on hickory, walnut, butternut, ash, sumac sweet gum and persimmon. It ranges throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada, but is most common in the South. Adults are short lived and do not feed.