How Long Do Giant Silk Moths Live? Unveiling Their Lifespan Secrets

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Giant silk moths, belonging to the Saturniidae family, are known for their impressive size and captivating appearance. These moths, which include species such as the Cecropia, Promethea, Polyphemus, and Luna, can have wingspans measuring between 4 to 6 inches.

Understanding the lifespan of these fascinating creatures is essential for appreciating their unique characteristics. Adult giant silk moths have a remarkably short life, primarily due to their reduced or absent mouthparts which prevent them from feeding.

Life Cycle of Giant Silk Moths

Egg Stage

Giant silk moths, such as Cecropia, Promethea, Polyphemus, and Luna, belong to the family Saturniidae. The egg stage starts when the females lay their eggs on a suitable host plant. This stage usually lasts around 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the species.

Caterpillar Stage

The caterpillar stage is the larvae phase of the moth’s life cycle. During this stage, the caterpillars undergo several molts or instars, experiencing significant growth.

  • Larvae – During the larval stage, caterpillars consume large amounts of foliage, which aids in their growth.
  • Instar – The stages between molts are called instars, and giant silk moth caterpillars usually go through 5 instars.
  • Molts – Molting is the shedding of the caterpillar’s skin, allowing them to grow larger.

Cocoon Stage

Once the caterpillar has completed its 5 instar stages, it enters the cocoon stage, where it will metamorphose into an adult moth. Some species create cocoons on the ground, while others may do so in trees. The cocoon period usually lasts for 2-3 months, or until environmental conditions are favorable.

Adult Stage

In this final stage, the adult giant silk moth emerges from its cocoon. Adult moths have a few notable characteristics:

  • Large size – Some giant silk moths have wingspans ranging from 4 to 6 inches.
  • Short lifespan – Adult moths live only for about 1-2 weeks, during which they don’t eat, as their mouthparts are small or absent.
  • Feathery antennae – The males have feathery antennae to locate females for mating, while female antennae are often thinner.
Stage Duration Key Features
Egg Stage 1-2 Weeks Laid on host plants
Caterpillar Several Weeks Consumption of foliage, molting, and growth
Cocoon 2-3 months Metamorphosis
Adult 1-2 Weeks Large size, short life, and reproduction

Notable Giant Silk Moth Species

Polyphemus Moth

The Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) is a remarkable species of giant silk moth native to North America. These large moths have unique features, such as:

  • An eyespot on each wing, resembling an eye to deter predators
  • Feathery antennae for detecting pheromones from potential mates

Some typical host plants for Polyphemus caterpillars include cherry and ash trees.

Luna Moth

Another fascinating species is the Luna Moth (Actias luna), which can be found from Canada to North America. Key characteristics of Luna Moths include:

  • Striking green wings with distinctive eyespots
  • Long, elegant tails on their hind wings
  • A preference for host plants like sassafras and lilac

The Luna Moth has connections to Greek mythology, specifically through its scientific name that originates from the Roman goddess of the moon.

Cecropia Moth

The Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest native moth in North America, showcasing sexual dimorphism and beautiful wing patterns. Some interesting facts about Cecropia Moths are:

  • Males have larger, more feathery antennae than females for detecting pheromones
  • Their preferred host plants include poplar, sassafras, and lilac

Cecropia caterpillars spin a spindle-shaped cocoon, which they inhabit until metamorphosis. The moth’s name, cecropia, is derived from Cecrops, the mythical founder of Athens in Greek mythology.

Polyphemus Moth Luna Moth Cecropia Moth
Size Large wingspan Medium wingspan Largest wingspan
Eyespots Prominent on wings Smaller on wings On wing tips
Antennae Feathery, pheromone-sensitive Shorter, less feathery Males have larger, feathery antennae
Host Plants Cherry, ash Sassafras, lilac Poplar, sassafras, lilac

Appearance and Anatomy

Wings and Wingspan

Giant silk moths, belonging to the family Saturnidae, have impressive wingspans, ranging from 4 to 6 inches. Their large wings consist of:

  • Forewings: The front pair of wings
  • Hindwings: The back pair of wings

Some examples of giant silk moths with large wingspans include:

  • Cecropia moths
  • Luna moths
  • Polyphemus moths

Color Patterns

The color patterns on giant silk moths help them blend into their environment and deter predators. Common colors found on their wings and bodies are brown and green. For instance, the Luna moth has bright green wings with brown edges, while the Polyphemus moth has brown and tan patterns on its wings.

Antennae and Senses

Adult silk moths have large, feathery antennae that enable them to detect pheromones released by females over long distances. In some species, males can even sense these pheromones from up to three miles away.

Sexual Dimorphism

In many giant silk moth species, there are visible differences between males and females. These differences often include:

  • Antennae: Males tend to have larger, more feathery antennae than females
  • Size: In some species, females are larger than males
  • Color patterns: In certain species, the color patterns may vary between females and males

Comparison Table: Male vs. Female Giant Silk Moths

Feature Males Females
Antennae Larger, feathery Smaller, thin filament or feathery depending on species
Size Generally smaller Generally larger
Color patterns May vary between species May vary between species

When it comes to the anatomy of giant silk moth caterpillars, they often have vibrant colors and distinctive patterns to deter predators. These caterpillars may have hairy or spiky bodies, as well as various markings to help them blend into their surroundings.

Feeding and Host Plants

Preferred Leaves and Trees

Giant silk moths, members of the family Saturniidae, have specific preferences when it comes to foliage for their caterpillars. Some notable host plants and leaves that the caterpillars feed on include:

  • Willow: A tree commonly found near water sources
  • Apple: Fruit-bearing tree that can be cultivated in various parts of the world
  • Sassafras: Native to North America, often used in traditional medicine
  • Lilac: A popular flowering plant with a pleasant fragrance
  • Poplar: Trees that are often used in landscaping and paper production

Caterpillar Diet

Caterpillars of the saturniid family mainly feed on a variety of leaves. They rely on these host plants throughout their larval stage. Examples of such preferred foliage include willow, apple, sassafras, lilac, and poplar trees.

Adult Diet and Mouth Parts

Interestingly, adult giant silk moths have a different diet compared to their caterpillar stage. In fact, some adult saturniids have small or absent mouthparts, making them incapable of feeding.

As a result, adult giant silk moths live for a limited period, often only a few days. Their main purpose during their short life is to mate and lay eggs. Their lack of feeding habits puts an emphasis on the significance of the caterpillar stage in obtaining the required nutrition for survival.

Reproduction and Mating Behavior

Mate Attraction

Giant silk moths typically fly at night for mating purposes. Males use their feathery antennae to detect female pheromones and locate potential mates. Females, on the other hand, have thin filament or feathery antennae depending on the species (source).

Pheromones and Mating Calls

Female moths release pheromones to attract mates. For example, male silk moths can detect a few hundred pheromone molecules among 25 quintillion molecules, making their sense of smell incredibly efficient (source).

Reproductive Success

Adult giant silk moths have small or non-existent mouthparts, which means they don’t eat. Their sole purpose as adults is to reproduce. The lipids stored as caterpillars provide nourishment during this stage (source). After mating, males and females are usually separated, and females lay eggs on host plants.

Examples of host plants:

  • Oak trees
  • Willow trees
  • Maple trees
  • Cherry trees


Some species of giant silk moths overwinter in their cocoons. The pupae stay protected in the cocoons during winter and emerge as adults when the temperature rises in spring or summer. This strategy helps them survive harsh winter conditions.

Predators and Defense Mechanisms

Natural Enemies

Giant silk moths, belonging to the family Saturniidae, face various predators and parasites throughout their lifecycle. Some common predators include:

  • Bats: Known to prey on flying moths
  • Tachinid fly: A parasitic fly that lays eggs on caterpillars
  • Gypsy moth: Though not a direct predator, they compete for resources

Moth and Caterpillar Defenses

Moths and caterpillars of the Saturniidae family employ multiple defense mechanisms to protect themselves.

Moth defenses:

  • Clicking sound: Some silk moths produce a clicking sound to deter bats
  • Camouflage: Many species blend in with their surroundings

Caterpillar defenses:

  • Parasitism prevention: Some caterpillars remove tachinid fly eggs from their bodies
  • Bright colors: Warning predators of potential toxicity

Comparison Table:

Defense Mechanism Beneficial For Pros Cons
Clicking sound Moths Effective against bat predation Limited to bats
Camouflage Moths/Caterpillars Reduced visibility to predators Environment-dependent
Parasitism prevention Caterpillars Reduces tachinid fly parasitism Time-consuming
Bright colors Caterpillars Deters predators due to toxicity Increases visibility

By understanding the various predators and defense mechanisms of giant silk moths, we can gain insight into their overall survival strategies.

Conservation and Human Interaction

Population Status

Giant silk moths, such as Cecropia, Promethea, Polyphemus, and Luna moths, are members of the Saturniidae family. Their population status varies depending on the region, with some areas such as the Great Plains showing declining numbers due to habitat loss.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts for these moths focus on preserving their natural habitats across different regions, including Florida, Maine, and other parts of the United States. Such efforts involve:

  • Monitoring populations
  • Preserving host plants
  • Educating the public on the importance of these species

Giant Silk Moths as Pets and Educational Tools

Giant silk moths are not commonly kept as pets, but they can be valuable educational tools. For instance, they could help teach students about:

  • Insect life cycles
  • Ecological interactions
  • Importance of conservation

Pros of using Giant Silk Moths for education:

  • Engaging visual appeal
  • Unique life cycles sparking curiosity
  • Sizes aiding in demonstrations

Cons of using Giant Silk Moths for education:

  • Short adult lifespans
  • Some species may be region-specific

Comparison Table: Luna Moth vs. Promethea Moth

Feature Luna Moth Promethea Moth
Wingspan 3-4.5 inches 3-4 inches
Coloration Pale green Brownish-red
Habitat Forests Forests
Active Period Nighttime Evening

By incorporating information on giant silk moths in science curriculum and conservation programs, we can raise awareness about the importance of these fascinating creatures and promote efforts to protect their populations.


Giant silk moths, belonging to the Saturniidae family, are known for their impressive size and beautiful appearance1. These moths have a relatively short adult lifespan due to their limited feeding capabilities2.

The adult moths live for only a few weeks3, spending that time mating and laying eggs. As caterpillars, they undergo several growth stages before spinning a cocoon and transitioning to adulthood.

Below is a comparison table of different Saturniidae moth species and their adult lifespan:

Species Adult Lifespan
Cecropia 1-2 weeks
Promethea 1-2 weeks
Polyphemus 1-2 weeks
Luna 1 week

In conclusion, giant silk moths are fascinating creatures with unique features and characteristics. However, it is important to note that their adult lifespan is quite short-lived, making them a fleeting marvel in the natural world.


  1. Giant Silk Moths (Family Saturnidae) – Field Station

  2. Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths – MDC Teacher Portal

  3. Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths – Missouri Department of Conservation

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Female Polyphemus Moth: Hatches with deformed wings and lays unfertilized eggs!!!


cocoon my daughter brought home
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota (found in winter)
February 10, 2012 8:50 am
My 8 year old daughter loves bugs, especially moths and butterflies. She recently brought this cocoon home and put it in a jar. After probably almost two months this bug came out. I have googled for hours and been unsuccessful in identifying the species, and since she wants to keep it I want to make sure we are feeding it correctly, so it would be great if you could tell me what it is.
After hatching it began laying eggs and spinning silk. It is very large and bulbous, especially in the bottom of the body. The wings do not seem to help it fly successfully. The wings aren’t flat the way most seem to be, they are formed a very odd way. And it has hair inbetween them. It’s probably 2” long, with a 2.5” wingspan. The body is probably 3/8” in diameter.
Signature: Thank you very much, from a lil bug lover’s mother

Deformed Polyphemus Moth

Dear lil bug lover’s mother,
Your story is one of the sweetest we have received in such a long time.  Don’t get us wrong, we love researching the names of insects, and exotic species are often very difficult for us, but we would much rather a philosophical question like yours.  Alas, we have bad news for the lil bug lover, though is is not really that sad and we hope you can use this as a learning experience for her.  This is a female Polyphemus Moth, a native North American species that can be found coast to coast if the habitat is conducive to its needs.  Your observation that the wings are unusual is correct, however, this is an abnormality that prevented this moth from being able to fly.  Normally the wings expand as the veins fill with body fluids.  If the moth is able to use its fluids properly, the wings harden and expand.  The moth takes its name from
the Cyclops Polyphemus  of the Odyssey by Homer, the ancient Greek chronicler.  One can only speculate why the wings did not expand.  Perhaps a genetic mutation.  Perhaps trauma endured during the collection process.  If the cocoon is held too tightly, it might damage the dormant pupa within.  Perhaps the confined conditions of the bottle where it emerged was not a habitat conducive to its needs.  Though this flightless female did not mate, she probably needed to download some eggs in her bloated state.  In the wild, she would have taken flight and released pheromones that the male could sense with his considerably larger and feathered antennae.  Others of her species would have emerged at the same time because conditions like temperature and humidity triggered metamorphosis.  She would fly and release pheromones   The male and female would actually engage in intercourse and he would fertilize the eggs in her womb.  She would then fly and lay eggs on the correct deciduous trees, of which there are many (see BugGuide).
Here is the really interesting part.  Adult Polyphemus Moths do not eat, so nothing is going to appeal to her.  The mouth parts, known as the proboscis, are absent, so she cannot consume nourishment like other adults or imago of her order, Lepidoptera.  Adult Giant Silkmoths in the family Saturniidae do not feed and they only live a few days, long enough to mate and lay eggs.  Many adult Giant Silkmoths are eaten by birds and other predators.  Evolution has caused many species to develop eye spots or ocelli that will scare a predator into thinking it is being attacked by a much larger creature with a huge face, perhaps even a human.

To Be Continued…….

UPDATE:  February 13, 2012
Hello again lil bug lover’s mother,

We wanted to try to provide you with a bit more information if your daughter continues to be interested in collecting cocoons so that she can observe the metamorphosis process.  The scientific term for the emergence of an organism from a dormant state, be it egg or pupa, is eclosion.  Caution your daughter to handle the cocoon very carefully.  The ideal habitat is one that is large enough to house the adult comfortably and will provide ample space for the wing expansion.  Jars are not ideal.  Cardboard boxes at least the size of a shoe box fitted with a screen cover are a much better solution.  You also want to avoid premature eclosion.  This Polyphemus Moth was not provided with an opportunity to find a mate, or to have a mate find her, because she emerged during the depths of winter in Minnesota.  If you have a protected and unheated porch or garage that is closer in temperature to the outdoors, but safe from elements and predators, that is ideal.  Then eclosion can occur when the conditions are suited for the rest of the species.  Once the moths emerge, they can safely expand their wings and be released.  Butterflies and moths do not make the best pets since they need to fly and most captive environments do not provide enough space.  Caterpillars can be raised quite successfully however.  On a positive note, if the failure for the wings to expand had been genetic and not a result of trauma, this moth would surely have perished much sooner in the wild, however, the truncated wings would not have prevented mating, and if a male Polyphemus had ecloded in the vicinity, they could have mated.  Good luck with future endeavors.

Letter 2 – Female Polyphemus Moth ready to lay eggs


Subject:  What is this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Jupiter Florida
Date: 01/25/2018
Time: 11:03 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this in my walk today.
I was told it was a pregnant moth. What kind is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Judy from Jupiter

Female Polyphemus Moth

Dear Judy,
You were told correct information.  This is a female Polyphemus Moth and she is indeed filled with eggs.  Like other members of her Giant Silkmoth family Saturniidae, the female emerges from the pupal state filled with eggs and ready to mate.  Moths in this family do not eat as adults.  They live for a few days, long enough to mate and reproduce.  We hope you had the opportunity to observe the dorsal surface of her wings, as there are large eyespots on the underwings that are used to startle birds or other predators into perceiving that they are about to be eaten by a much larger creature when they try to eat this tasty morsel.

Thank you so much for the information.
It is always a good day when you learn something new.

Letter 3 – Spiny Hornworm Caterpillar from South Africa: Lophostethus dumolinii


Green caterpillar south africa
Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
January 29, 2011 7:14 am
We found this green caterpillar on our tree outside. It is approx. 100mm long x 25mm thick. ictures are with a large bic lighter to illustrate size. We would really like to know what kind of caterpillar it is.
Signature: Green caterpillar

Spined Hornworm from South Africa

Dear Green caterpillar,
We have not had any luck identifying your caterpillar on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site.  Though we are confident that this is a Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae, the species identification is proving elusive

We hope that our email to Bill Oehlke will provide an identification.  Can you provide the name of the tree upon which this caterpillar was discovered?

Bill Oehlke provides a surprising revelation
I think it is not one of the Saturniidae. I remember being very surprised one time to learn that some of the South African Sphingidae have spines. I am pretty sure it is one of the Sphingidae, but I cannot remember which one.
Bill Oehlke

Ed. Note: We will begin searching this new possibility.

Bill Oehlke finds the ID
Hi Daniel,
The larva is one of the Sphingidae. It is Lophostethus dumolinii. Can you get me a larger image of the larva and the photographer’s email
Bill Oehlke

Thanks so much Bill.  We can provide you with the contact information of the person who submitted the images.  They may have higher resolution files, but we do not.

Ed. Note: We have not had any luck finding images of the caterpillar online, but Biodiversity Explorer identifies Lophostethus umolinii as the Arrow Sphinx Hawkmoth and has an image of the adult moth.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for all the trouble you have gone to to find the species of the caterpillar I really appreciate it. Attached are larger images of the caterpillar as found in the tree. I am not too sure what the tree is but will try to look it up in the indigenous south African directory as it is an indigenous plant.  I had to move it to another tree as it was near our animals which would disturb it – I have just checked and it has made a home in the new tree and looks like it is getting ready to cocoon (if that is what you call it). Hopefully I can follow its progress and we can see the end result.

Arrow Sphinx

Hi again Jeni,
Thanks so much for sending the higher resolution images of the Arrow Sphinx.  By clicking on the images to enlarge them, our readership can compare the difference in quality.  The caudal horn is much more apparent in these higher resolution images.

Letter 4 – 2 Giant Silkmoths: Prometheus Moth and Polyphemus Moth


Silk worm moths
Location: Sherman, CT
May 30, 2011 2:01 pm
We just found both of these in our yard in CT. Both silkworm moths, we think a polyphemus and a prometheus–any thoughts. Both about 5” wing span.
Signature: Dee Ratterree

Female Prometheus Moth

Hi Dee,
We agree with both of your identifications.  The Prometheus Moth is a female.  The sexually dimorphic males are smaller and have very dark coloration.  The Polyphemus Moth is also a female.  The antennae of the male are much more developed.

Polyphemus Moth

Letter 5 – Silkmoth Caterpillar: Hyalophora kasloensis


Blue and Red Spiked Caterpillar
Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 8:39 PM
Blue and Red Spiked Caterpillar
While wandering along a wooded path in northern Idaho, I found this amazing looking caterpillar in the high bushes. The colorful red and blue spikes really make it stand out, but i have been unsuccessful in identification. It was mid August and i was along the mountainous shores of Pend Orielle Lake. Thanks for your help!
Northern Idaho

Silkmoth Caterpillar
Silkmoth Caterpillar: Genus Hyalophora

Hi Sarah,
Your caterpillar appears to be one of the earlier instars of a Silkmoth in the genus Hyalophora. Caterpillars molt four times, once between each of the five instars. The instars often look quite different, and many times field guides only hshow the final or firth instar. We believe this may be the third instar of either the Ceanothus Silkmoth, Hyalophora euryalus , or perhaps Glovers Silkmoth, Hyalophora columbia gloveri , or perhaps another species without a common name, Hyalophora kasloensis. All three are found in Idaho. We are going to contach Bill Oehlke to see if he can identify your caterpillar more exactly. He may want to know the exact county and date of the sighting.

It appears to be Hyalophora kasloensis which may be a self sustaining hybrid of H. euryalus and H. columbia gloveri.  Usually if all of the thoracic and abdominal tubercles are red, the insect gets classified as kasloensis, but could also just be a local race or variation of euryalus.  It is also possible that kasloensis is a valid species, not just a self sustaining (capable of reproduction) hybrid.  You could safely call it Hyalophora kasloensis
Bill Oehlke

Thanks Bill,
We considered Hyalaphora kasloensis as the most likely candidate by searching the listings for Idaho on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, the membership only website.  Readers may find out more about the site as well as seeing a photo of the adult moth by viewing the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site
Fifteen 2007 Individual Photo Finalists

Letter 6 – Giant Silk Moth: Rothschildia lebeau yucatana from Mexico


Subject: Moth
Location: Yucatan Mexico
August 22, 2012 1:49 pm
I believe this is an Atlas Moth, however I can’t confirm it. Its beautiful either way. Thanks
Signature: Ranaman

Rothschildia lebeau yucatana

Dear Ranaman,
This is a Giant Silk Moth in the genus Rothschildia, and it is in the same family as the Asian Atlas Moth.  We believe this is either
Rothschildia jorulla or Rothschildia cincta.  We will see if Bill Oehlke can provide the species name.  He has no living examples of Rothschildia jorulla on his website, so he may request permission to reproduce your photo.

Bill Oehlke responds
Hi Daniel,
This is a nice picture of a male Rothschildia lebeau yucatana. I would like permission from Ranaman to post image or a larger one or larger ones, credited to him on my website. He can contact me directly at
It would be nice to have his full name for credit purposes, but it could just be credited to Ranaman.
Bill Oehlke

It is Rothschildia lebeau yucatana.
I tried sending an email to ranaman, but message bounced.

Thanks Bill,
Our response also bounced.  We will contact our webmaster to see if he can track the originating email address so that you can make your request.  In the event that does not happen, our submission form reserves the right to post images and content to What’s That Bug? as well as WTB? authorized publications.  You have our permission to use this image with a credit to Ranaman.

Letter 7 – Giant Silk Moth from Brazil: ​Rhescyntis pseudomartii


Subject: Moths
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
September 25, 2012 8:13 pm
I found these two lovely Giant Silk Moths in Missiones, Argentina, and Sao Paulo state, Brazil,respectively, this past August. Could you tell me what they are? Thanks.
Signature: James Colborn

Giant Silkmoth: Rhescyntis pseudomartii

Hi James,
One of your moths is in the genus
Rhescyntis, but we are not certain of the species, and we cannot tell from your communication if it is from Argentina or Brazil.  There are inherent problems when multiple species are submitted in a single email.  Please clarify using the numbers on the file which is from Brazil and which is from Argentina.  We believe we have the Rhescyntis species as hailing from Brazil, since it is the second attached file, however, it is numbered chronologically earlier.  We have written to Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide a species name.  We will post your other submission separately.  Here is an image of a member of this genus, Rhescyntis hippodamia, on the Leo Prensa Libre website.

Wow! That was fast! Thanks, Daniel. The Rhescyntis species is indeed the one from Brazil. Sorry about the confusion.
Hope to hear back. Thanks again. You guys are awesome!

Bill Oehlke responds with an identification
Rhescyntis pseudomartii
Very nice. Do you have any other data?

Letter 8 – Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar at 8000 feet in Colorado: Glover’s Silkmoth we believe


Subject:  What kind of caterpillar is this? Silkmoth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Basalt, CO 81621
Date: 08/15/2021
Time: 12:25 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Found this caterpillar while hiking on our property at 8000 ft elevation.
How you want your letter signed:  Joe

Glover’s Silkmoth Caterpillar, we believe

Dear Joe,
This is definitely the Caterpillar of a Giant Silkmoth in the genus
Hyalophora, but the species has us puzzled because of the two rows of bright red tubercles.  The Cecropia Moth is not found west of the Continental Divide, and according to the Cecropia Moth description on the Agricultural Science website of Colorado State University:  “The Glover’s silk moth, Hyalophora columbia gloveri, occurs at higher elevations within the region and may be found west of the Continental Divide. … Larvae of the Glover’s silk moth lack the reddish tubercles that are prominent with the cecropia and these are instead colored yellow. Caterpillars primarily feed on leaves of Rhus trilobata, but maple, willow, chokecherry, alder, and wild currant are among the other hosts. Formerly considered a distinct species, the Glover’s silk moth is now classified as a subspecies of the Columbia silk moth, Hyalophora columbia (S.I. Smith).”  Though there are some discrepancies in the description of the caterpillar, our best guess is that this is a Glover’s Silkmoth Caterpillar.  When Daniel returns to Los Angeles next week, he will attempt to contact Bill Oehlke to confirm.  To add to the confusion, there is also inter-species hybridization possible.  This BugGuide discussion on the identification of a Glover’s Silkmoth Caterpillar might interest you.

Thank you very much Daniel!  I look forward to hearing what Bill thinks.

Letter 9 – Attacus phillipina from The Philippines


Subject:  Attacus Caesar Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Cebu
Date: 02/07/2018
Time: 11:06 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I am a moth enthusiast, I believe that this is an Attacus Caesar moth.  It has landed on my diving vest, on my balcony at the edge of the jungle in Northern Cebu, Philippines.
How you want your letter signed:  HABSgirl

Attacus philippina species

Dear HABSgirl,
According to The Saturniidae of the Philippines, there are four species in the genus
Attacus reported from The Philippines:  “Attacus atlas (Linnaeus, 1758), Attacus caesar Maassen, 1873, Attacus lorquinii C. & R. Felder, 1861, Attacus lemairei Peigler, 1985” but the site does not provide any images.  Of the images posted to Philippine Lepidoptera, the species that look most like your individual are male Attacus lemairei and Attacus lorquinii, though both seem to exhibit considerable variability.   The location of your sighting might not be a factor because according to zobodat:  “these huge species are very popular with amateur entomologists and traders, easy to rear (and regularly reared in big numbers), traded in large numbers (but not at all en­dangered thereby), polyphagous and usually capable to survive in secondary and agricultural landscape of the non-industrial type, and obviously will thrive well under tropical and subtropical climate nearly everywhere in the wild in SE Asia. This, consequently, may well have resulted in several popula­tions being set free in the wild at the ‘wrong’ places, often in or near cities.”  That stated, we are turning to Bill Oehlke to enlist his expertise.

Bill Oehlke Responds: 
I am not sure but I would go with Attacus philippina, which, at one time, was considered a synonym of lorquinii. Second choice would be lorquinii.


Letter 10 – Edible Giant Silkmoth Caterpillars from The Republic of the Congo


Caterpillars on the menu
Location: 200km East of Kinshasa
July 29, 2011 12:19 am
Dear Bugman,
Here in Congo there are a few species of caterpillars which are harvested, smoked and sold for food in the local markets. The ones in the photo were taken on the Bateke plateau about 200km east of Kinshasa in mid June when they are in season. Can you help us ID the species or at least the genus ? Thanks !
Signature: Nick

Kanni, or other Giant Silkworm???

Dear Nick,
We are still working on a species or genus identification for you, but we did locate an image online that looked very similar on the African Moths website.  It is the caterpillar of the Pallid Emperor,
Cirina forda, and we have found several references to the caterpillar being edible and eaten.  On the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, we learned:  “In Nigeria the larvae are picked from Sheabutter trees, are called ‘Kanni’, and are widely eaten after being boiled and sun dried. In the Congo the larvae are eaten in “Vegetable Soup”, a valuable human food source.”  We also located this pdf of a technical paper entitled The Protein Quality of Cirina forda …  Caterpillar. We are not confident that the identification is correct, and we are contacting Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information.  We will copy him on this response as well.

Bill Oehlke responds
They are either Cirina forda or one of the Imbrasia or Gonimbrasia species. I am pretty sure they are Cirina forda
Bill Oehlke

Request from David Gracer
Hi Daniel,
I’d be most grateful if you’d be willing to either send me Nick’s email or forward this inquiry to Nick, who’d submitted the image from Congo.  I’d love to learn what he’s been seeing and if his interest is research-based.  In any case I’m starting to draw material for the next issue of the Food Insects Newsletter and if Nick would be willing to share his images and notes I think that the community of people involved would be most appreciative.  Data on this kind of food resource is always scant at best.
Thanks a lot,

Thanks much for the information on the caterpillars.
I would be happy to help with images and research.  I am actually an Oceanographer by training and amateur naturalist.  I am located in Kinshasa and have work sites in Bandundu where the caterpillar pictures were taken.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the late 80’s in Bandundu, smoked caterpillars were the most affordable animal protein available to us on our modest stipends.  On our last trip to Bukanga Lonzo, last month,  we stayed at the mission there and the good fathers there prepared a nice dish of caterpillars and stewed cassava greens.  Do tell me what kind of data you need and I will try to get it here in Kinshasa and if not too late, in september-october when I plan to go back to Bandundu to monitor our programs there.

Letter 11 – Japanese Silk Moth in Croatia


Subject: Big yellow butterfly
Location: Croatia
August 26, 2015 4:05 pm
Do you know what is the name of this beautiful butterfly?
Signature: Yellow butterfly

Japanese Silkmoth
Japanese Silkmoth

This is not a butterfly, but rather, a Giant Silkmoth in the family Saturniidae.  Our first matching image in researching its identity was found on Moths and Butterflies of Europe and North Africa where it is identified as a Japanese Oak Silkmoth, Antheraea yamamai, and on SummitPost it states:  “Europe’s largest moth: Japanese Oak Silkmoth (Antheraea yamamai). Its wing span is 11-15 cm.  Originally it lived only in Japan, but it was imported into Europe I think in the middle of the 20th century. A few of them escaped from the farm where they were hosted, and since then it widespread in a few CEE countries, living on oak leaves.”  According to Stock Photo, it was:  “introduced in Europe for silk production.”

Letter 12 – Giant Silk Moth from Zimbabwe: Gonimbrasia macrothyris


Subject: Zimbabwean Moth
Location: Africa, Zimbabwe
December 15, 2015 8:15 am
hello bugman
cannot identify this beautiful specimen we found today in harare, zimbabwe…
thank you for helping my 6 year old son distinguish it!
Signature: Cool Bug man

Giant Silk Moth
Giant Silk Moth:  Gonimbrasia macrothyris

Dear Vivienne,
We believe we have correctly identified your Giant Silkmoth in the family Saturniidae as
Gonimbrasia (Nudaurelia) macrothyris on the member’s only World’s Largest Saturniidae Site and we then researched that name and located a beautiful image on Todd Amacker’s Favorite FlickR Photos.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to verify the identification and we suspect he may request permission to post your image on his site as well.

Thank you so much Daniel!  Happy to share image… you can see true ‘size’ when there’s a reference, even if it is a 6 year olds hand!

Bill Oehlke Responds
Hi Daniel,
It is either macrothyris or something undescribed but very closely related.
Please see if you can get a date and more precise location and permission for me to post with credit to photographer. I would need photographer’s name to credit image properly.

I’m the Photographer, is hand of A 6 year old not an adult ? would love if they use my image!!
Exact location, umwinsidale, Harare, Zimbabwe – taken yesterday 15th December
Thank u again for all your help
Vivienne Croisette

Letter 13 –


Luna moth
Location:  Coastal North Carolina
March 27, 2012  7:42 PM
I saw this beautiful 5-6 inch moth when I was out today. Unfortunately It seemed like something was wrong with him/her. I thought it looked similar to a Luna moth. Doing some investigative work online I couldn’t find a Luna moth that looked like this. I found an article about similar looking moth species and came across antheraea polyphemus. But, I still couldn’t find a moth online that looked like this one.
Coastal North Carolina

Cecropia Moth

Dear Jenn,
This beautiful moth is a Cecropia Moth, and though it is in the same family as the Luna Moth, Saturniidae, it is not that closely related within the family.

Letter 14 – American Silkworm Moth from Peru


Subject:  Possible Epias muscosa?
Geographic location of the bug:  La Merced, Chanchamayo Province, Junin, Peru
Date: 01/30/2019
Time: 09:22 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have several images of various moths from a trip near La Merced, Peru for blacklighting. This first one is the easiest as I’m near certain it is Epias muscosa – it is always good to get consensus though.
Thanks in advance.
How you want your letter signed:  Kevin

American Silkworm Moth

Dear Kevin,
Your images are beautiful with many fine details, and except for what we believe is a spelling error, we agree with your identification that this is an American Silkworm Moth,
Epia muscosa, which is pictured on iNaturalist and Encyclopedia of Life, and FlickR has many nice images of living specimens.  The bushy antennae indicate that your individual is a male.

American Silkworm Moth

Many, many thanks!
And yes, I meant to spell the genus as Epia.
Might I float one more image in your direction?
Thanks again!

Letter 15 – Antheraea yamamai from Bosnia


Subject: Moth 2
Location: Brgule, 5-7 km NW Tuzla, Bosnia i Hercegovina
March 12, 2013 4:53 pm
Here is another one that I can’t find on internet. Please help!
It is scanned from a photo and the photo was taken summer 1996.
Signature: Kristian

Antheraea yamamai
Antheraea yamamai

Hi again Kristian,
You are keeping us busy, and your identifications are sure more fun than the constant stream of Carpet Beetles we have been identifying of late.  This beautiful Giant Silkworm is
Antheraea yamamai, and it is a highly variable species.  According to The World’s Largest Saturniidae Site:  “The Antheraea yamamai moth (Wingspan 110–152mm) shows great colour variation from the sandy-yellow of the female illustrated above through brownish-grey, chocolate-brown, bronze, reddish-brown, khaki to chromium-yellow. The last colour form, which comes with red and pale pink markings, is rare in females.”

This was really good news and interesting reading. I remember that we had a lot of really big khaki-colored (probably males), that was attracted to the spotlights in the beginning of the summer. When I found this one, much later that summer, I was a little bit surprised that it was much smaller and so bright yellow, that I wondered if it was an other species. I also remember that I was a little bit disappointed because I wanted to take a picture of one of those really large ones. But now I just want to go back and get better photos of these amazing moths.
Thanks a lot!!

Hi again Kristian,
The moth in your photo is a male based on the antennae.  Also, the chrome yellow form is reportedly rare with females according to the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site.  With Giant Silkmoths, the females are often the larger of the sexes.

Letter 16 – Antheraea mylitta from India, not Antheraea yamamai or Antheraea paphea


Please tell me
Dear sir,
please tell me about these moths… I am from Kerala India.. I found and photographed them from our area.. The yellow one is very large with transparent circles on the wings…15 cm on extended wings…I saw it flying in broad daylight Is there Day moths too? Please help me with their details such as scientific name, habitats etc. Regards
Ibrahim TMC, Kasargod ,Kerala, India

Hi Ibrahim,
Our favorite website for identifying exotic Saturnid Moths run by Kirby Wolfe is now a pay site, and we really cannot justify paying $40 to identify your moth. We did find an image that seems identical to your golden moth and it is identified as an Antheraea species. We then located a second website that supports that identification, and names it Aantheraea yamamai yamamai with the common name Japanese Oak Silkmoth. Your green moth is some species of Sphingidae, or Hawk Moth.

Update: (02/27/2008) Antheraea mylitta
Dear Experts from Whatsthatbug,
what a great webpage! I often enjoy the nice pictures and comments – it is such an explosive mixture of interesting details and beauty, congratulations! It is also a very nice and important medium for the evidentation of where the species occur… For the nice insert from 10.10.07 written by Ibrahim TMC, Kasargod, Kerala – I have another proposal; though the colour is really very much like that of A. yamamai from Japan or Russian Far East (specially in females, I am close to confuse the specimens too), what is quite surprising indeed – it should be an Antheraea mylitta female, with regard to the much bigger eyespots on the wings; a very fascinating species, similar to A. yamamai, but with the caterpillars spinning a much larger, splendid egg-shaped cocoon hanging on a strong peduncle from a twig. (Some subspecies are cultivated for silk in the region.) On the other hand, the information about A. yamamai occuring in India (as introduced species, like in Slovenia where I come from, since 1865) can be found in several sources of Lepidopterological literature – and I am wondering very much how it should be able to survive in a tropical climate, as coming originally from a quite winter-cold region (northern Japan) – except, maybe, in high mountains… (They overwinter as eggs and can only have one generation per year – needing therefore a colder climate.) Do You have any additional information about the Indian A. yamamai population and where they occur? (Attached is a photo of A. yamamai from Slovenia, making love on the window, the female is on the right.) Many Thanks in advance and nicest wishes to You and to Ibrahim, from Berlin,
Bostjan Dvorak

Correction March 24, 2010
Whilst researching a related moth from India, which we believe is the true Antheraea mylitta, we stumbled upon an image of Antheraea paphia on the World’s Greatest Saturniidae website that matches this older posting.  We found a comparable image on Flickr that supports the corrected identification.

Bill Oehlke’s corrected correction, a return to the original speculation
March 24, 2010
Because of the size of the hyaline areas of the eyespots, I believe both moths are Antheraea mylitta.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 17 – Antheraea yamamai in Slovenia


Big Yellow Moth… I think! Loc: Slovenia
I found this unfortunate guy while in Slovenia recently. I say unfortunate because he landed in the grass near to me and was flapping around, obviously in distress. When I looked closer it appears he must have been attacked by a bird or something because he was missing a front antenna and a front leg. I thought to leave him there in the hope that a bit of rest in the sun would help, but I then noticed he was about to be swarmed by an army of giant ants! So… I (very gently) scooped him up and put him somewhere safe with some muddy puddle water. Unfortunately though, when I returned later, he had curled up his tootsies and shuffled off this mortal coil etc. etc.. So, I now have this poor creature and I still don’t even know what he is! I am torn between hoping he is rare (for the joy of finding something rare), but then again hoping he is not (because then it would be an even bigger shame that he didn’t make it! Please help give him a name! I have looked through every Butterfly and Moth page on your site but can’t find him anywhere. I have put him on a CD to give you an idea of his size. I’ve only ever seen anything this big in butterfly houses, never in the wild! Thank you very much
Scott Holmes
from North Wales, UK.

Hi Scott,
Thanks for writing your touching story of the unforgiving ways of the natural world. Your moth is Antheraea yamamai, a Japanese species introduced to Europe.

Letter 18 – Bedraggled Polyphemus Moth


What Is This Moth?
This moth was on my deck in Minnesota for a brief period last June. The deck floorboards that you see are 6″ wide. It was a spectacle for us! Can you identify it?
Daryl Ramsey

Hi Daryl,
You have a very bedraggled Polyphemus Moth, one of the giant silkworm moths, Antheraea polyphemus. They only live a few days and do not eat as adults, though the large caterpillars are voracious feeders. Adults only live to mate and lay eggs.

Letter 19 – Bug of the Month: July 2006 – Polyphemus Moth


What kind of moth is this?
This moth is clinging to my front screendoor. Can you tell me what it is? Thank you,
Elaine K. Goldsberry

Hi Elaine,
This is a female Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. The Audubon Guide lists it as east of the Rocky Mountains, but according to Hogue, it is sometimes found in the Los Angeles Basin. The Polyphemus Moth is one of our Giant Silk Moths or Saturnid Moths. Adults do not eat and live just to mate. Since the Audubon Guide lists the flight of the adult moth in July, and since we get many questions regarding this moth in the summer, we have chosen it as our Bug of the Month for July 2006. We are currently experiencing and internet dilema, and are being forced back to dial-up. We will post and answer very very few letters in the next week, but we felt we needed a new Bug of the Month. Thanks for your worthy submission.

Update: (07/03/2008) polyphemous moth correction?
hi guys i love your site thank you!
the reason im writing is to let you know that the polyphemous moth is and has been in josephine county oregon my entire life and im older than dirt! we find them on storefronts in grants pass every year at about this time. i live on the north county line and had one on my door just a week ago (it is shown in oregon by the big sky moths website too.) no need to publish this just thought u would like to know..

Letter 20 – Bunaea aslauga from Madagascar, we believe


Subject: Bunaea….
Location: Ranomafana NP, Madagascar
March 12, 2013 4:39 pm
Can you help me out with this one. Thought this was a Bunaea alcinoe, but there are a lot of Bunaeas and I can’t find photos of all of them. And I don’t know what to look for to separate the different species.
Photo taken October 31, 2011
Signature: Kristian

Bunaea aslauga, we presume
Bunaea aslauga, we presume

Hi Kristian,
According to the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, there are only two species of
Bunaea found on Madagascar, Bunaea alcinoe and Bunaea aslauga.  We believe your moth looks more like Bunaea aslauga which is pictured on the BugManiac.  We will check with Bill Oehlke to get his opinion on the matter.

Bill Oehlke Confirms Identification
Hi Daniel,
As far as I know Bunaea aslauga is limited to Madagascar, and alcinoe is
limited to the African mainland so this one would be aslauga.
There is supposedly a third species, vulpes, also from Madagacar, but I have
no images of vulpes for comparison. Vulpes is reported from Moramanga,
Madagascar, which is in the northern third of the island country
wWhile aslauga is found in the southern third of Madagascar so I would go
with Bunaea aslauga for this image.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 21 – Caligula zuleika from Sikkim


moth from Sikkim
Dear WTB folk,
I found your site on the net and wish to know if you could help in identifying the attached moth from Sikkim Kind regards,
Sr. Research Officer (WL)
Dept. of Forest, Env. & WL Mgmt.
Government of Sikkim

Hi Usha,
This has not been an easy identification. Our internet sleuthing began on Kirby Wolfe’s website and images of Caligula simla and Caligula japonica. Armed with a genus, we located a wonderful page with Saturniidae Moths of Thailand that contains images of others in the genus including Caligula thibeta. Further research led us to an image of Caligula lindia. Finally, we believe we have success with Caligula zuleika.

Ed. Note: Usha wrote back with the following taxonomy update provided by Ian Kitching.
Dear Usha,
The species name is correct but it is currently classified as Saturnia (Rinaca) zuleika. Caligula is currently a synonym of Rinaca, which itself is treated as a subgenus of Saturnia. Cheers,

Letter 22 – Ceonathus Silkmoth


big beautiful moth not on your site! (yet)
greetings bugpeople.
first of all, i love your site. i’ve already spent hours looking at it. hours and hours. and hours. BUT! i couldn’t find this moth. i took these shots in in hope, idaho. a tiny town on lake pend oreille in the panhandle of idaho. i’ve asked a few local people and no one knows what it is. i’ve looked through moth and butterfly books…no luck. very furry, beautiful and friendly…i think he liked having his picture taken-obviously let me get up close and personal. check out those antennae!
barbara schelling
sandpoint, idaho
ps. please don’t judge me because i live in idaho…i didn’t vote for him!

big beautiful moth…you DO have it…
my apologies! i sent an email with 5 photos of a moth earlier today. somehow i overlooked the “moths silkworm” (for some reason, i thought that would be moth larvae…) categories on your site – you have plenty-o pictures of this moth! looks like it’s the “ceanothus silk moth”? i know you are super busy, no need to “identify” my bug. you’ve already identified it many times. so glad to have found it on “what’s that bug”. thanks! i’ve been wondering what this moth was for quite a while. now i can sleep. again, great site. (love the “steal this sweater” site too). my best regards,
barbara schelling

Hi Barbara,
First of all, we would never think of judging anyone because of their homeland, or even their party affiliations. We reserve our disdain for individuals with a hateful, short-sighted world view that shuns inclusivity and peaceful cohabitation (including cohabitation with insects). Our mother, who still lives in Ohio, talks constantly about the stolen election. It seems her immediate neighbors in Northeast Ohio blame everything on the incumbant regime, including changes in the weather, increasing cost of utilities, and even minor injuries like the stubbing of a toe or minor inconveniences like burning toast. We agree that you have sent in a photograph of a Ceanothus Silkmoth. BugGuide does not have any examples sent from Idaho, and you might want to submit your photo to their excellent website as well. Have a wonderful day.

Letter 23 – Citheronia splendens and Bombardier Beetle


Unknowns – moth and bug.
What are these? Thank you very much for your consideration. Jon……
This is a very large moth, approximately 4 to 4 1/2 inches in length and was found on the exterior wall of our home one evening when the outside lights were left on. The time of year was August, during our monsoon season. We are at the 4,700 ft. elevation in the oak- grassland habitat of the Madrean Archipelago (Sky Island Country) of southeastern Arizona, 15 miles north of the Mexican border. This bug is found beneath rocks, lumber, buckets – wherever there is a covered and moist area. Unfortunately, they have found a way into our home, and they are active mainly at night. They can be flushed from the concrete patio edge at the patio/lawn interface by hosing down the concrete and they come swarming out of the wet ground and grass. They are constantly in motion and it is a rare moment when they are stationary. This one was feeding on the dead carcass of its own species. Occasionally, they will fly short distances. When they think you are too close, they will release a visible vapor puff from the distal tip of their abdomen with an audible "pop." Harmful? Dangerous?

Citheronia splendens Bombardier Beetle

Hi Jon,
We are thrilled to receive both of your photos. The moth is Citheronia splendens, a species found in upper elevations in Arizona and Mexico. The beetle is a Bombardier Beetle in the genus Brachius, and your description of its defense is very accurate. They are predators, so beneficial, and harmless to you. According to BugGuide: “Adults have impressive chemical defenses, ejecting toxic, foul-smelling gases from their abdomen with a loud popping sound. The explosive brew is composed of hydrogen peroxide, hydroquinone, and catalytic enzymes. ”

Letter 24 – Cynthia Moth


Help with id of a moth.
I recently visited a butterfly park in London and took this picture of a moth but I cannot id it. Can you help? I though it might be a variety of silk moth. Thanks

Hi Ed,
If this is not a Cynthia Moth, Samia cynthia, it is a closely related species. Also known as the Ailanthus Silkmoth, the Cynthia Moth was introduced to North America from China in the 19th Century in a failed attempt at silk production. That introduction is also responsible for the introduction of that pestiferous tree, the Ailanthus Tree. The Ailanthus Tree, or Tree of Heaven, is the larval food plant and it has spread across the country, along roads and in cities, and has penetrated an estimated 30% of the Shenandoah Forest in Virginia. It is a noxious weed tree that displaces native vegetation, is invasive and very difficult to eradicate as it spreads by seeds as well as an extensive root system.

Letter 25 – Dirphia tarquinia from Trinidad, we believe


Subject: Moth species
Location: Trinidad
December 5, 2013 8:08 am
Taken Trinidad April 2013. Can you ID it?

Dirphia tarquinia, possibly
Dirphia tarquinia, a rare Trinidad sighting

Dear Robin,
If we are correct, Trinidad is an unreported sighting location for this lovely Hemiluecinid,
Dirphia tarquinia.  We learned that when we identified its ranging in Venezuela on the World’s Largest Saturniidae site, a private site on the internet.  Here is a photo from Kirby Wolfe’s website.  We have written to Bill Oehlke to verify our identification, and we would greatly appreciate it if you would grant him permission to post your photo to his site.

Thanks Daniel,
Yes, it is tarquinia. I have sent an email to Robin, confirming id and  asking for permission to post image.



Letter 26 – Dysdaemonia boreas from Mexico


Moth ID please
Hi Bug man.
My 7 year old son turned me on to your site. I’ve been a bug collector all my life and it seems he’s following in my footsteps. I travel quite a bit and am required to pack a net. "Dad, you’ve got a net, right?" Last month I was on a fishing trip in Guerro Vincente Mexico. The fishing was on the slow side so I started checking some lights in and around the village. I found plenty of Satellite Sphinxes and some that appeared to be Carolina Sphinx. This one however has me stumped. It came to a light late at night at laundro mat. It is 5 3/8" in wing span. Any ideas? Also, I missed a larger moth that had "Atlas" type upper wings and was as flighty as a Black Witch. I’m still bummed. Thanks a million for teaching Josef so much in this field. Keep up the good work. I noticed your site doesn’t have: Elm, Waved, Abbots, Wild Cherry, Ash, Pandora, Laurel, Blind Eye, Cersey’s andTwin Spotted Sphinxes. ‘Want’ em?
Tim Borski

Hi Tim,
We quickly located your beautiful moth, Dysdaemonia boreas, on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, an amazing private access website with a membership. Dysdaemonia boreas is found in much of Mexico, Central America and South America. We located another image on a public access website, the Moths of Belize. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on our reply as he may want your location information to add to his comprehensive sighting data. The other large Saturniid you describe may be one of the Rothschildia species. Regarding the missing Sphinx Moths you mentioned, we currently have 7 Sphinx Moth pages, and some of the species you mention are represented on our site. If you find any totally lacking, or underrepresented, please send us photos and data, like time of year, location, and anecdotal information our readership may find amusing.

Letter 27 – Epiphora mythimnia from Zambia


Please can you identify this moth
Was in Zambia, Africa in Jan last year working at a lodge next to the Zambezi River. This moth flew in while we were having supper. I was amazed by its unique markings. Would be great to know what it’s called. Cheers,
Sean Rooke

Hi Sean,
If this is not Epiphora mythimnia, then it is a very close relative. You can compare your image to one posted on Kirby Wolfe’s Insect Company Website.

Letter 28 – Female Polyphemus Moth


Subject: 4″ brown moth
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
August 11, 2014 5:50 am
Can you help I’d this bug? It has been resting for a day over my neighbor’s door. It’s about 4″ wide and brown. We live in Cincinnati. The date is mid August, 2014.
Signature: Katie

Female Polyphemus Moth
Female Polyphemus Moth

Dear Katie,
This is a female Polyphemus Moth from the family Saturniidae, and like other members of the family, adult Polyphemus Moths do not eat.  They only live long enough to mate and lay eggs, surviving on nutrients stored while a ravenous caterpillar.  Hopefully this female has mated and she will lay fertile eggs.


Letter 29 – Female Polyphemus Moth lays eggs


Subject: Big moth/butterfly
Location: Pottstown, PA
August 24, 2013 2:48 pm
I discovered this large moth on my table leg. She/It appears to be laying eggs. she is nearly as large as my hand. I live in southeastern Pennsylvania- Pottstown, PA.
Signature: Benita

Polyphemus Moth
Polyphemus Moth

Hi Benita,
This Giant Silkmoth is commonly called a Polyphemus Moth and she is in fact laying eggs.

Letter 30 – Fanmail


Absence of additional photos
April 28, 2011 11:37 pm
Heh. Having been succinCt, descriptive, and specific in the subject, what’s left?
Oh yes, details. 🙂
I note that many posts state that there are additional photos (the Polyphemus moth is the one I saw, where it has a newly-emerged moth and states that they have one four hours on–but there’s only the one photo)…but when you go to the post itself, there’s no additional photos.
I know you’re short on time and space–we all are–but puh-leeze, can we please have a few more eentsy little photos? 🙂
You guys ROCK!!! bigtime at this; I keep telling teachers and kids and parents to come on over, it’s fun.  And even the grossed-out and/or phobic ones wind up here eventually, and LOVE it! 🙂
Repeat: You ROCK. 🙂  Totally. 🙂
Now…what bugs in Butte County, CA, do you want/need photos of? 🙂  I’ve not the money to donate but I can sure get pictures and do some ID work..!!
Signature: Pam Alley

Polyphemus Moth

Hi Pam,
Thanks for your kind email.  When photos are submitted, we generally choose the most representative or our favorite to post.  When there are several images, we often post two or rarely three.  We did a search for Polyphemus Moth using our search engine, and we believe we found the posting that you are referring to and there are two images.  Additionally, similar postings are available by clicking the small thumbnails under the posting.  We would love to post some of your photos, and we especially like seasonal sightings and species that are not well represented on our site.  Right now we hope to get a variety of different Blister Beetles from the southwest.  We are posting the image you were unable to locate as an accompaniment to this posting

Ah ha…must click on first photo to see all photos!  Silly me. 🙂
Comment on chickens–hit the BackyardChickens website for best husbandry/health/housing information.  You aren’t the only one who has lost feathered friends unexpectedly, nor had trouble getting started.
Consider yourself hugged…that’s not fun. 🙁  But that website will help you get restarted…
I do have a couple of bugs you might be intrigued by; one was a ‘wingless bee’ found under my rabbit cages…which amazingly, by the end of its photo session, had wings (laughing)–think it was a bee mimic of some kind.  The other was a seemingly voracious black and white striped bug that was encouraged to go forth and eat LOTS of earwigs.
BTW…I got into chickens as earwig control, and now I have more than I know what to do with…LOL…so watch out!  They’re addictive (or at least additive!
There are a number of show breeders of various kinds of chickens in your part of the world–highly recommend the Belgian d’Anvers breed–sociable, personality plus, and hardy as heck.  A bantam breed. You might consider getting some adults to start with–they lay very well and brood excellently too.
Recommend you put a nice chain-link kennel around your chicken coop area to keep skunks/raccoons out–raccoons especially, as they can carry nasty parasites and are incredibly strong given the smallest opening.  Try Craigslist for one that’s affordable.
Anyway, you’re welcome to my photo collection, should you want it…here are two exemplars and enjoy! 🙂
If there’s anything I can do to help you folks, I have no life, so let me know. 🙂

Dear PA,

There is no way all these can be posted.  This will probably take an hour to format.  We can post your letter and one species.  In the future, please use the identification form which helps the formatting of our website.  It is found here:  ask-whats-that-bug/
Thanks for your enthusiasm.
P.S.  Just yesterday, over 50 identification requests arrived

Letter 31 – Female Tulip-Tree Silkmoth


Beautiful moth
Location:  Vienna, Virginia
August 6, 2010 3:23 pm
Dear Bugman,
I saw this beautiful moth on a door at a local school. It appears to be either a female tulip tree silkmoth or a promethea silkmoth. As it is quite reddish, I think it is the former. It is early August, which fits the description.

Tulip-Tree Silkmoth

Hi Fleur,
We are inclined to agree with you that this appears to be a female Tulip-Tree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera, based on images that are posted to BugGuide.

Tulip-Tree Silkmoth

Letter 32 – Female Tuliptree Silkmoth


Subject:  Moth or butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Greenville, SC
Date: 08/11/2018
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

Female Tuliptree Silkmoth

Dear Pedro,
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.

Female Tuliptree Silkmoth

Letter 33 – Edible Leaf Cutter Ants


What is this bug?
We woke up this morning to find our house completely infested with these, a couple of hundred of them. Their bodies are about one inch long. They have four wings, the longer set being about two inches. They seem to have stingers. They were all sluggish when we woke up and found them. My husband was able to sweep them up without much trouble. Their wings make a very loud buzzing sound. We live on the Pacific coast in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Thanks,

Hi Jennifer,
You have experienced the nuptial flight of king and queen edible Leaf Cutter Ants. They usually take flight after a summer rain.

Letter 34 – Giant Silk Moth Cocoon


A Pod?
I found this while clearing brush in my backyard here in central Wisconsin. I believe it to be an insect pod but not that of a mantis. I’ve grown mantis from pods for the last five years and this is nothing like those. I’m not sure if there is anything in the casing. Can you help me identify it? Thanks for looking and also for the cool website.
John Kelley

Hi John,
This is the cocoon of a Giant Silk Moth in the genus Hyalophora, either the Cecropia Moth or the Columbia Silk Moth.

Letter 35 – Giant Silk Moth from Costa Rica: Hyperchiria nausica


October 6, 2009
Hi Bugman,
This moth looks like a dead leaf with it’s wings closed. When I set it on the table it struck a nice pose. It’s body on the underside is totally orange and there are pink blotches on the underside of the wings. Very pretty.
Costa Rica

Hyperchiria nausica
Hyperchiria nausica

Hi Jordan,
This beautiful moth does not have a common name.  It is Hyperchiria nausica, and we located on  Kirby Wolfe’s website.

Hyperchiria nausica
Hyperchiria nausica

Letter 36 – Giant Silk Moth from Peru: Rothschildia erycina


Subject: Giant Silk Moth from Peru
Location: Peru
February 15, 2014 8:46 am
Thanks you so much for your fast response! I am forwarding that to him down there and tell him to keep snapping the pictures. Next time he wants to bring a better camera!
I attached a silkmoth and a giant long horned beetle picture, for your interest.
Thanks again Daniel,

Giant Silk Moth:  Rothschildia species
Giant Silk Moth: Rothschildia erycina

Thanks Wendy,
Your Giant Silk Moth is in the genus
Rothschildia, but according to the information we have available on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site, there are 23 species and subspecies in the genus that are found in Peru.  Can you provide more specific location information in Peru?  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can identify the species or subspecies.

Bill Oehlke provide identification
Rothschildia erycina female. Subspecies depends upon location, but I suspect
eastern Peru, making it Rothschildia erycina erycina
Bill Oehlke

I am just waiting for a response from him, they were helicoptered in from Lima I think, and are deep in the jungle by the sounds of it. I will get back to you as soon as he sends me the information!
Hello again,
They are a 2 hour helicopter flight away from Tarapota, so it does look like the north-eastern jungles of Peru.

Letter 37 – Cabbage Emperor Moth Caterpillar from Gabon is Bunaea alcinoe


Subject: caterpillar
Location: Gamba, Gabon
October 1, 2014 5:58 am
Found crawling among leaf debris in back garden. About 3.5 inches long, though can stretch longer.
Signature: dkortephoto

Saturniid Caterpillar
Cabbage Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Dear dkortephoto,
Your images are beautiful, as is this Caterpillar.  The only information we can provide at this time is a family, and your caterpillar belongs to the family Saturniidae, the Giant Silkmoths.  We have contacted Bill Oehlke for assistance as he has especial interest in the Saturniidae.  We hope you will permit him to post your images to his comprehensive website if he assists in the identification.

Saturniid Caterpillar
Cabbage Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Update:  October 3, 2014
We heard back from Bill Oehlke who identified this marvelous caterpillar as
Bunaea alcinoe, a species represented in our archives.  The more typical coloration we see is black with yellow and red spikes.  Your red individual is not as common a color variation.  This species is known as the Cabbage Emperor Moth Caterpillar.

Saturniid Caterpillar
Cabbage Emperor Moth Caterpillar

Letter 38 – Another Giant Silkmoth from Tanzania: Epiphora leae


Subject: More moths
Location: USA River, Arusha, Tanzania
January 13, 2016 2:25 pm
And another moth from us here in Arusha. He big too…
Signature: The Wood family

Giant Silkmoth: Epiphora mythimnia
Giant Silkmoth: Epiphora leae

Dear Wood Family,
This is another Giant Silk Moth in the family Saturniidae.  We believe we have correctly identified it as
Epiphora mythimnia thanks to the Bizland site, but since there are quite a few member of the genus listed in Tanzania, we will contact Bill Oehlke to confirm the ID.  Again, we suspect he may want to post the image to his site and we hope you grant permission.  Are the two moth images you submitted recent sightings?

Bill Oehlke provides a correction.
The Bunaea is alcinoe.
The Epiphora is either leae or vicina. If you can get elevation in meters above sea levelthat should help with id.

I did some research online on Arusha, and the area seems consistently above 1000m, so I am confident it is Epiphora leae which flies at higher eleveation than does vicina. I put the image on the leae page and it seems a very good match. Later today I will be sending Graeme Davis access to the site in way of a gift membership. Quite a coincidence that his moth turned out to be Coloradia pandora davisi.
Thanks for your continued support with image notifications.
It is one of the newer species and I still have to update Tanzania list.
Bill Oehlke

Hello Daniel
Yes both sightings recent. The Cabbage Tree Emperor Moth was yesterday morning, while the Giant Silkmoth was about a month ago or so I think but I’d have to check.
Of course Mr Oehlke can post either or both images to his site, with our pleasure. …
Hannah (of the Wood Family)


Letter 39 – Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar from Burundi: Athletes species


Subject: Scary looking caterpillar
Location: Gisuru, Ruyigi, Burundi
February 14, 2016 4:51 pm
Hey Bugman!
Any idea what this caterpillar is and what it may turn in to?! Seen in Gisuru, Ruyigi province of Burundi this evening, just hanging around outside the house … is it dangerous?!
Signature: Clare

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar
Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Clare,
This is one of the Giant Silkmoth Caterpillars in the family Saturniidae, and it looks very similar to one of the Marbled Emperors in the genus Heniocha, like this individual from the Republic of South Africa or this individual from Namibia.
  We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide any information as Caterpillars from Burundi are not well documented.  Giant Silkmoth Caterpillars are generally not dangerous, though some species have stinging spines.  The spines on your individual are not dangerous.

Bill Oehlke Responds
I think it is probably Gynanisa westwoodi, at least one of the Gynanisa.
Please give me submitter’s name and see if I can have permission to post. I will ask Thierry Bouyer for his opinion as he is more familiar with what is in western Tanzania and therefore likely in Burundi.
Burundi species list is on site, but not linked in the shortcuts section, just linked from the long table of country by country listing. I do not have any heniocha or Gynanisa listed for Burundi so it wil be interesting to hear what Thierry thinks.
Thanks for thinking of me.

Ed. Note:
Though we could not locate an online image of the caterpillar of
Gynanisa westwoodi, we did find an image of the caterpillar of Gynanisa maja on African Moths and another on Silkmoths and More.

Bill Oehlke contacts Thierry Bouyer
Hi Thierry,
Here is an image of what I think is most likely a Gynanisa species larva from Gisuru, Ruyigi, Burundi.
I do not have any Gynanisa species listed for Burundi, but I am hoping you know some of the possibilities which can be eliminated or would stand as maybe it is.
I think it could be westwoodi, jama, hecqui or thiryi. Maybe you can eliminate some and narrow down possibilities. Maybe something else I have not mentioned???
Bill Oehlke
I have very tentatively identified it as westwoodi.
Thanks for your time.

Correction from Thierry Bouyer
Hi Bill
not a Gynanisa but its is an Athletes (i would say semialba)

Hi Daniel,
I do not have any images of Athletes larvae so Thierry’s reply comes as a bit of a pleasant surprise:

Letter 40 – Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar from Brazil


Subject:  Caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Brazil
Date: 12/07/2017
Time: 04:24 PM EDT
Can you identify this?
How you want your letter signed:  Manuela

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Manuela,
This is a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to supply a species identification.

Letter 41 – Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar from Ecuador


Subject:  Green hornworm (?) from Ecuador
Geographic location of the bug:  Jorupe Reserve, near Macará, Loja, Ecuador (near the Peruvian border)
Date: 04/02/2019
Time: 07:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This photo was taken at the Jorupe Reserve (same location as my Eumorpha triangulum earlier today) on March 9.  This caterpillar is at least 3 inches long and very fat.  As we walked along the trail, these were falling out of certain trees to the ground.  I’m thinking it’s another Sphingidae/Hornworm.
How you want your letter signed:  David

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear David,
We agree that this does appear to be a Hornworm in the family Sphingidae, but it is not possible to discern a caudal horn due to your camera angle.  Can you confirm a caudal horn?  Can you provide an image that shows the horn?  We will continue to research this matter and hopefully provide you with an identification.  We will once again contact Bill Oehlke to take advantage of his expertise.

Daniel, here are my only other shots of this caterpillar, all the same individual.  I see no horn.
By the way, I have reduced the resolution on these to make it easier to send them over my inadequate internet connection.  Let me know if you need higher res.

Thanks for your help.

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Thanks for sending additional images David.  We have forwarded them to Bill Oehlke and are still awaiting a response.  We would not want to rule out that this might be a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae.

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Daniel, I am pretty sure it is Caio harrietae.
Caio harrietae (Forbes, 1944) (Arsenura).
Do I have permission to post this image and the Eumorpha triangulum image?
Bill Oehlke

Ed. Note:  See our archive for images of adult Caio harrietae.

Letter 42 – Aristotle’s Silkmoth Caterpillar from Turkey


Subject:  Pretty little thing
Geographic location of the bug:  North of Istanbul Turkey
Date: 07/11/2019
Time: 03:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This little thing is pretty. I’d love to know what it is, what it will turn into (if any thing) and if it is pousinous. Thank you very much in advance.
How you want your letter signed:  Aycha Warner

Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar

Dear Aycha,
This is a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the family Saturniidae.  Based on this FlickR image, it appears to be
Saturnia pyri. According to Nature Documentaries, where it is called Aristotle’s Silkworm:  “Saturnia pyri is the largest moth in Europe. It lives in Southern Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa but it occasionally makes a northward move.”

Thank you very much 🙂 I hope to see what it turns into 🙂

Letter 43 – Giant Silk Moth from Zimbabwe: Gonimbrasia macrothyris


Subject:  Giant African Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Harare, Zimbabwe
Date: 12/30/2019
Time: 12:05 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi – found a moth in the garden on 19 Dec 2019 which sadly appeared to have died the next day. It looks like a Giant Silk Moth – previously sent in to you and identified as such. Also from Harare. I can send you a photo of the complete moth if required.
How you want your letter signed:  James Ball

Giant Silk Moth: Gonimbrasia macrothyris

Dear James,
This is indeed a Giant Silk Moth and we are confident it is
Gonimbrasia macrothyris which is pictured on Afro Moths.

Hi Daniel
Thank you very much for your prompt and informative reply. I will be sending in some other ‘bugs’ for ID.
James Ball

Letter 44 – Glover's Silk Moth


Here are a couple of pictures; I didn’t realize there were so many silkmoths that looked alike and wondered which it was. At first I thought is was Ceanothus, then I saw Cecropia, then Glover’s. I am near Prescott, Arizona. Barnes and Noble did not have a book on strictly Moths or Silkmoths. Is there a book availaable? Thanks,
Jane Shrum

Hi Jane,
This is Glover’s Silk Moth, Hyalophora columbia gloveri, which ranges in the Southwest. We always like Holland’s Moth Book. Your image appears to have been altered in Photoshop. Giant Silk Moths do not feed as adults, and are not inclined to visit blossoms. Additionally, there seems to be a bit of unusual layering on the left upper wing where the blossoms appear through the wing.

Thank you for identifying the photos I sent you on 8/11/08 as Glover’s and for the information about Holland’s Moth Book. I am attaching several other photos that should show that it was not altered in Photoshop. The wings appear to be damaged on both upper left and upper right wings and that is where the blossoms showed in the photo I sent.

Hi again Jane,
Thanks for dispelling our silly suspicion.

Letter 45 – Glover's Silk Moth and Oculea Moth (we believe)


New Mexico Moths
September 15, 2009
Here are pictures of 2 moths that visited us the same night in August, up in the northern New Mexico mountains. I’ve been able to read some about them. Their size is noteable!
J. Ivy
Ute Park, New Mexico

Glover's Silk Moth
Glover's Silk Moth

New Mexico Moths 2
I’m sorry, I doubled-up on one photo and left out the second moth.
New Mexico mountains

Glover's Silk Moth
Glover's Silk Moth

Hi J,
We are very happy you sent a second email with the other moth.  Several of your photos of the Glover’s Silk Moth, Hyalophora comumbia gloveri, a subspecies of the Columbia Silk Moth, were incorrectly labeled Polyphemus Moth.  Your second moth, though it looks like a Polyphemus Moth, is more likely the much rarer Oculea Moth, Antheraea oculea, which has a limited range in the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, and possibly Texas.  According to the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site:  “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.

Oculea Moth
Oculea Moth

Letter 46 – Larch Silkworm


can you identify this for me?
hey guys, i was surfing the internet trying to find out what this thing was. i found it up in a pine tree around 30-40 feet up at work. it is as long as a deck of cards, as one of the pictures shows. ive never seen one before. i live in washington state, near puget sound in stanwood. the place i work is less than a mile from the water. you guys have any ideas what it is? if you could email me back that would be awesome. thanks,
Andrew Smith

Hi Andrew,
We were relatively certain this caterpillar is in the genus Hyalophora, so we tried a websearch. We eventually locted information on the Larch Silkworm, Hyalophora columbia columbia on a Caterpillars on Conifers in the Eastern U.S. website. Hyalophora columbia is found in both eastern and western U.S. There are several subspecies, including Columbia Silkmoth and Glover’s Silkmoth. BugGuide lists the food plants in the west as: “leaves of alder, birch, Antelope Bitterbrush ( Purshia tridentata ), buckbrush ( Ceanothus spp.), buffaloberry, cherry, rose, Russian Olive ( Eleagnus angustifolius ), willow.” The photo you sent on foilage looks like larch to us. We are confident that we have properly identified your caterpillar, and perhaps the list of food plants in the west needs to be updated.

Letter 47 – Mating Rothschildia Silk Moths from Mexico


Saturnid Rothscgilidia
Hi Bugman
I recently followed the life cycle of a moth in the wild in Queretaro, Mexico.120 miles north of Mexico City. Two cacoons hatched 4 weeks ago and I captured them mating. I am attaching photos. I was intrigued by the comments on the Saturnid Rothschilidia reported from Brazil then challenged. Judging from my photos I seem to have an almost identical example from semitropical central Mexico. What do you think?

Hi Clint,
We have just logged onto the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site for the first time in an attempt to properly identify your mating Rothschildia species, and we must say an accurate identification is beyond our means. Hazarding a guess, we will take a stab at Rothschildia lebeau aroma. Perhaps Bill Oehlke will come to our rescue.

It is Rothschildia cincta guerreronis, sometimes elevated to Rothschildia guerreronis. Note strong presence of white scaling on forewing, just inside the marginal area, also some white scaling on hindwing in corresponding area. Many of the Rothschildia are very hard to id. … Thanks for sending images. Very nice.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 48 – Male Tulip-Tree Silkmoth


Subject:  Brown Moth
Geographic location of the bug:  Hide-A_Way Hills, Hocking Cty, OH 43107
Date: 06/18/2020
Time: 08:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this by our front door, June 16, 2020.  Could not find the exact same one online.  What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Jan

Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Dear Jan,
This looks to us like a male Tulip Tree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera, and it is pictured on BugGuide.  It is one of the Giant Silkmoths in the family Saturniidae.  Giant Silkmoths only live a few days, long enough to mate.  They do not feed as adults.

Letter 49 – Male Tuliptree Silkmoth


Subject: Large Moth in Bridgewater
Location: Bridgewater, CT
July 24, 2016 7:21 pm
Hi. This big guy or gal is just hanging out on our back stoop. Dog doesn’t even scare him/her! Quite interesting but I don’t know what it is. Can you help?
Thank you,
Signature: Liz

Male Tuliptree Silkmoth
Male Tuliptree Silkmoth

Dear Liz,
After comparing your image to this BugGuide image, we are confident this is a male Tuliptree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera.  Like other members of the family, adults do not eat, living only about a week, long enough to mate and reproduce.

Thank you!  I was doing my research last night too and came up with the same species, although I thought it was a female.  Thanks for all your help. J

Letter 50 – Mating Antheraea yamamai from Slovenia


Antheraea mylitta
Dear Experts from Whatsthatbug,
what a great webpage! I often enjoy the nice pictures and comments – it is such an explosive mixture of interesting details and beauty, congratulations! It is also a very nice and important medium for the evidentation of where the species occur… For the nice insert from 10.10.07 written by Ibrahim TMC, Kasargod, Kerala – I have another proposal; though the colour is really very much like that of A. yamamai from Japan or Russian Far East (specially in females, I am close to confuse the specimens too), what is quite surprising indeed – it should be an Antheraea mylitta female, with regard to the much bigger eyespots on the wings; a very fascinating species, similar to A. yamamai, but with the caterpillars spinning a much larger, splendid egg-shaped cocoon hanging on a strong peduncle from a twig. (Some subspecies are cultivated for silk in the region.) On the other hand, the information about A. yamamai occuring in India (as introduced species, like in Slovenia where I come from, since 1865) can be found in several sources of Lepidopterological literature – and I am wondering very much how it should be able to survive in a tropical climate, as coming originally from a quite winter-cold region (northern Japan) – except, maybe, in high mountains… (They overwinter as eggs and can only have one generation per year – needing therefore a colder climate.) Do You have any additional information about the Indian A. yamamai population and where they occur? (Attached is a photo of A. yamamai from Slovenia, making love on the window, the female is on the right.) Many Thanks in advance and nicest wishes to You and to Ibrahim, from Berlin,
Bostjan Dvorak

Hi Bostjan,
Thanks for your wonderful letter with all of its information. Sadly, we have no additional information on the image from India, and we no longer have contact information on Ibrahim or his moth. We are thrilled to have your image of mating Antheraea yamamai.

Letter 51 – Mating Tuliptree Silkmoths


Subject: Cecropia moths?
Location: Southern Middle Tennessee
May 24, 2017 5:18 am
Found these two on my back door this morning. Could they be Cecropia moths?
Signature: Thank you, A. Garretson

Mating Tuliptree Silkmoths

Dear A. Garretson,
These are mating Giant Silkmoths, but they are NOT Cecropia Moths.  They are in the genus
Callosamia, and of the three possibilities found in North America, we believe you have witnessed an amorous pair of Tuliptree Silkmoths, Callosamia angulifera.  According to BugGuide:  “Males are brown centrally, females yellowish brown. On females the angular white spots are largest on the forewings.”

Mating Tuliptree Silkmoths

Letter 52 – Pandora Silk Moth, possibly


What is that bug?
I hiked up in San Jacinto mtns (above Palm Springs) and saw this bug. It looks like caterpiller that never completly changed into butterfly… Do you know what it is?

Hi Ziv,
You are correct in assuming this moth is still undergoing metamorphosis. When they emerge from the pupa or cocoon, moths and butterflies have small, soft useless wings that need to expand with fluids in the veing and then dry and harden before they are usable for flight. This is a newly emerged moth. Your Silm Moth species did not look familiar, so we wrote to Eric Eaton. Here is his response: “Newly-emerged is right! Reminds me of a pandora moth, which is a type of giant silk moth. Can’t offer any alternatives. Eric “

Letter 53 – Cerisy's Sphinx and Polyphemus Moth


Moth ID
Hello Bugman,
Just wondering if you could identify these two species of moth for me. Photos taken in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Thanks,

Cerisy’s Sphinx Polyphemus Moth

Hi Lori,
The smaller moth is a Cerisy’s Sphinx, Smerinthus cerisyi, and the handful is a Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus.

Letter 54 – 4 Polyphemus Moth images in one week!!!


Unidentifed creature
I don’t know much about insects, but I thought this moth (at least I think that’s what it is) was interesting. It was outside my office in April of this year. I came across the photos again today, and I thought I would send them to someone so that I could find out what it is. Thanks for your help!
Susan Brown

Hi Susan,
Though we have three Polyphemus Moth photos currently posted on our homepage, we liked your photo so much we decided to post it as well.

Letter 55 – Probably Male Sweetbay Silkmoth


Subject: What kind of moth is this?
Location: Rowan County, North Carolina
July 24, 2017 5:55 pm
Hi Bugman,
I’m in Rowan Co., N.C. and wondering what kind of moth this is my husband took a picture of on the hood of our car. It’s about as big as a large palm of the hand. Pretty markings!
Signature: Thanks! Monica in N.C.

Probably Male Sweetbay Silkmoth

Dear Monica,
This is one of the male Giant Silkmoths in the genus
Callosamia, and there are three similar looking species that are all found in North Carolina.  Based on BugGuide images, we believe this is a male Sweetbay Silkmoth, but we would not rule out that it might be a male Tulip-Tree Silkmoth which is also pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 56 – Silkmoth Caterpillar: Callosamia species


Subject: Caterpillar
Location: New Orleans, LA
September 8, 2013 8:26 pm
Dear Bugman,
Do you know what this little guy is called? It fell out of a tree, practically in my friend’s lap, and everyone freaked out and warned her that these leave nasty welts when they bite. That’s disappointing, because it’s awfully cute. Curious what the little fella is.
Signature: Bugged to Know

Callosamia Caterpillar
Callosamia Caterpillar

Dear Bugged to Know,
This is a Giant Silkmoth Caterpillar in the genus
Callosamia, and we feel the report of bites leaving welts is not true, though there are many stinging caterpillars that can leave welts.  There are three members of the genus Callosamia found in the New Orleans area, and all three have similar looking caterpillars, so we can’t say for certain which of the three species you found.  Our money is on this being the caterpillar of a Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera, which you can see on BugGuide.  This might also be the caterpillar of a Promethea Moth, Callosamia promethea, which is also pictured on BugGuide, or the caterpillar of a Sweetbay Silkmoth, Callosamia securifera, which you can find pictured on the Butterflies and Moths of North America.   

Letter 57 – Colobura annulata Caterpillars from Costa Rica


Subject: Another Costa Rican Caterpillar
Location: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
January 1, 2015 5:55 pm
Hi Bugman,
This caterpillar was found near Tortuguero on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Any ideas what species it is?
Signature: Jon

Silkmoth Caterpillars
Colobura annulata Caterpillars

Dear Jon,
We believe these caterpillars are in the subfamily Hemileucinae, and we even located a matching image from Panama on Monga Bay, but it is not identified.
  We are going to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can provide an identification.

Silkmoth Caterpillars
Colobura annulata Caterpillars

Not sure, but I think they may be butterfly larvae in Nymphalidae family. Elongated scoli from head lead me to that suspicion.

Thanks for the tip Bill.  We quickly located an image of Colobura annulata on FlickR that was identified by butterfly expert Keith Wolfe that is a perfect match.  Butterflies of America has images of both caterpillar and adult.  According to Butterflies of Amazonia:  “The eggs are white and laid in groups of between 2-10 on leaves of the foodplant. The young larvae feed on Cecropia leaves and make ‘frass chains’ i.e. chains of droppings linked together by strands of silk, which protrude from the edges of the leaves. When not feeding they rest on these frass chains, which provide them with a defence against marauding ants. For reasons that are not fully understood, ants seem unwilling to walk over frass chains. The fully grown larvae are velvety black and adorned with white rosetted spines along the back, and yellow spines along the sides. They live and feed gregariously in groups of between 5 and 20. When feeding they bite through the stems, causing alleochemics ( anti-herbivore juices ) to bleed from the plant, stopping it from mobilising chemicals into the area being eaten.”  The images of the Cecropia Tree on Academic Evergreen look very much like the leaves upon which your caterpillars are feeding.

Letter 58 – Silkmoth Caterpillar from Mexico spins cocoon


Subject: Large green caterpillar
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
October 20, 2015 10:18 pm
Hello. For about a week I was keeping track of the ravenous diet of a relatively large caterpillar on one of the neighborhood’s trees. Over a month ago it cocooned (Sept 10) and I was keeping track of that too when I saw someone trimming the tree. Luckily the cacoon seemed undamaged, but it is now in my home and I’d like a ballpark figure of what it could be, or more specifically, how long it will remain in the cacoon (seems from the type of cacoon it will become some kind of moth). Any information will be greatly appreciated!
Signature: Adriana

Rothschildia species Caterpillar
Rothschildia species Caterpillar

Dear Adriana,
Just last week, we posted another example of a caterpillar in the genus
Rothschildia, and Bill Oehlke tentatively identified it as Rothschilida orizaba orizaba or Rothschildia peggyae.  We suspect, since you do not have a harsh winter, that the emergence should take four to six weeks, so you might be expecting an adult moth in the very near future.  The image you submitted that is a close-up of the prolegs of the caterpillar is especially interesting.  Because you rescued the cocoon after the tree trimming, we are tagging your posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

Prolegs of a Rothschildia caterpillar
Prolegs of a Rothschildia caterpillar

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for the response.  It seems like Alfredo and I had extremely similar experiences.  I looked at hundreds of caterpillars and none had that particular division between the bottom and top body, I too was looking at the prolegs and none were quite right.  It is definitely a Rothschildia.  Beautiful.  Can’t wait for its emergence!  Thank you!
Adriana Urbina

Hi Adriana,
Please send us an image or two (dorsal and ventral view perhaps) when it emerges.

Cocoon of a Rothschildia caterpillar
Cocoon of a Rothschildia caterpillar

Update:  November 2, 2015
We are 3 days away from week 8.  Is this normal or could there be something wrong?

Rothschildia Cocoon
Rothschildia Cocoon

Dear Adriana,
Since you do not have a freezing climate, we suspect emergences of Giant Silkmoths in your area are more connected to humidity than temperature.  Be patient.  The cocoon looks fine.

Letter 59 – Silkmoth Caterpillar: Sphingicampa species


Subject: Green Caterpillar with Red-Tipped Scales
Location: Southwest Texas (Val Verde County)
September 23, 2016 7:29 am
The following caterpillar was found on a nature trail at the Amistad National Recreation area in Del Rio, Texas (a semi-arid environment in Southwest Texas with influences by the Chihuahuan desert, Edwards plateau, and South Texas plains). The creature was found in the morning (~10 am) in September. It is predominately green in color, with a darker olive green dorsal side and lighter green belly. It appears to have 10 segments. Each of the first two segments behind the head has 4 green spine-like structures on the dorsal side (two per side). Most of the following segments had 4 scale-like spines that were predominately white with red tips. The head was predominately green with two yellow-ish vertical stripes. A dark green postabdominal spine was located on the dorsal side of the 10th segment.
Signature: n/a

Sphingicampa Caterpillar
Sphingicampa Caterpillar

Dear n/a,
This is a Silkmoth Caterpillar from the genus
Sphingicampa, and there are several similar looking species found in Texas, according to BugGuide

Letter 60 – Silkmoth Caterpillars from Mexico: Arsenura armida


Subject: Caterpillars in the Yacatan jungle
Location: Coba ruins , tulum area
November 21, 2016 12:29 pm
Please take a look at this Catapillar. We found clusters of these in the jungle at the coba ruins in the tulum area. At the base of the tree , directly below them was a whole bunch of little pellets. We’re curious what this Catapillar is and what it turns into. I hope you can help.
Signature: Petra

Arsenura armida aggregation
Arsenura armida aggregation

Dear Petra,
This Project Noah image gives us confidence that this is an aggregation of Caterpillars of the Giant Silkmoth
Arsenura armidaWe have several images in our archives that look similar.  Thanks so much for including the image of the droppings.  This Cortland Faculty website has some nice information including:  “This large Neotropical silkmoth is the only species in the genus Arsenura that exhibits sociality.  Other Arsenura are solitary and cryptic, but A. armida has adopted an aposematic and gregarious lifeyle.  It may be the only social representative of the subfamily Arsenurinae which occurs from tropical Mexico to northern Argentina and contains approximately 57 spp., very few of which are known from the early stages (Lemaire, 1980; Hogue, 1993).
Arsenura armida occurs from tropical Mexico to Bolivia and southeastern Brazil.  In the tropical dry forest of Pacific Mexico and Central America, its caterpillars are found on Guazuma ulmifolia (Sterculiaceae), Rollinia membranacea (Annonaceae), and Bombacopsis quinatum (Bombacaceae) (Janzen and Hallwachs, 2002).  Larvae emerge shortly after the rainy season in May, after passing the long dry season as a solitary and dormant pupa in a chamber excavated 2-10 cm below the soil surface.  Part of the first generation enters a dormant pupal stage and part ecloses about 35-55 days after pupation, to create a second generation in November-December.  All of the second generation pupae become dormant until the following start of the rainy season.
The young larvae are brightly aposematically ringed yellow and black with red heads, and remain together diurnally feeding side by side in large masses on the leaves.  Costa, Fitzgerald, and Janzen (2001) studied this species in Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica, and showed that the larvae use a trail pheromone to maintain group cohesion. Larval trail-following can be elicited by surface cuticular material collected by wiping from the venter and dorsum of the abdomen of A. armida caterpillars, as well as crude extracts of homogenated somatic tissue.  The long-lived trail marker appears to be a component of the cuticle passively deposited from the posterio-ventral region of the abdomen as larvae travel over the host plant.
In the fourth instar,
A. armida larvae dramatically change their foraging strategy, switching from nomadic to central place foraging.  Costa, Gotzek, and Janzen (in review) documented the details of this behavioral shift: in central place foraging mode the caterpillars begin to rest diurnally in large conspicuous masses on the lower trunk and underside of larger branches, mobilizing at dusk to forage nocturally as solitary larvae in the canopy.  They return to the lower trunk at dawn, using tree architecture and their trail pheromone to relocate conspecifics (which are generally confamilials) upon descending.  Although larvae often reuse the same resting (bivouac) sites, individual caterpillars do not exhibit strict site fidelity and may shift among sites once descended.  This shift in foraging behavior entails a concomitant change in reaction to the information content of their trail pheromone, from maintaining groups as the caterpillars move from patch to patch, to relocating distant resting sites.”  Based on that information, your individuals are fourth or fifth instars, meaning more mature caterpillars.

Droppings from Aggregation of Arsenura armida Caterpillars
Droppings from Aggregation of Arsenura armida Caterpillars

Thank you very much Daniel.
You have been so helpful. What a cool resource you are.


Letter 61 – Silkmoth from Costa Rica: Dirphia horcana


Subject: Moth ID
Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica
November 19, 2013 12:48 pm
I was in January 2013 in Costa Rica and saw a lot of bugs.
I search the net and bought some books but still didn’t find all the names.
Maybe you can help me with the determination of a few species.
This Arctiidae spec I found in Monteverde, january 2013 Costa Rica
Signature: ?

Dirphia horcana we believe
Dirphia horcana we believe

This is not an Arctiid, but rather a Saturniid or Giant Silkmoth.  We visited The World’s Largest Saturniidae Site and we believe it is Dirphia horcana.  You may view a mounted specimen on Lepidoptera Pro.  We will try to contact Bill Oehlke for confirmation.

It is a Dirphia horcana female.
Dirphia subhorca females have brown lower wings while female horcana have orange underwings.
I would like permission to post this one so can you give me contact info. Very nice photo
Thanks ,

Letter 62 – Silkmoth from Costa Rica: Arsenura archianassa


Subject:  Silk moth?
Geographic location of the bug:  Costa Rica, Montezuma
Date: 05/25/2018
Time: 10:37 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there! I would like to know the species of this Huge moth i saw in a Hotel in Costa Rica. It was as big as mt Hand.
How you want your letter signed:  Mathilde

Giant Silkmoth: Arsenura archianassa

Dear Mathilde,
We are quite certain your Giant Silkmoth is in the genus
Arsenura, and we believe it is Arsenura archianassa based on images we located on the World’s Largest Saturniidae site, though it might be a different species.  There is a mounted specimen pictured on Bold Systems.  We will contact Bill Oehlke to see if he can confirm the species.

Letter 63 – Silkworm Caterpillar from Peru


Subject: Peruvian Caterpillar
Location: Pucallpa, Peru.
January 27, 2013 5:54 pm
Found this caterpillar in our carport. Central jungles of Peru near Pucallpa. I’ve never seen one like this but something tells me I’d rather not touch it.
Signature: Jungle Jack

Giant Silkworm Caterpillar

Dear Jungle Jack,
This is one of the Giant Silkworm Caterpillars in the family Saturniidae, but we haven’t the time right now to try to identify the species.  We will post it as unidentified in the hopes that one of our readers might provide an answer.  You were wise not to handle it as many caterpillars in this family have stinging spines.

Giant Silkworm Caterpillar

I am pretty sure it is a Pseudautomeris species in Hemileucinae subfamily of
Saturniidae, but I do not know which one.
I will look up Pucallpa to see if that helps narrow it down.
Bill Oehlke

Update from Bill Oehlke
While doing some other work, I came across larva of Automeris innoxia, and
it seems a very good match for the Peruvian caterpillar.

Letter 64 – Luna Moth accused of eating Wasps


Subject: Big Bug
Location: West Frankfort, Illinois
May 6, 2014 5:00 pm
Hi ~
This is a bug in my friends house. She lives in Illinois. It does have a mouth because it was eating wasps.
Can you help?
Signature: Thank you! Anne Woods

Male Luna Moth
Male Luna Moth

Dear Anne,
This is a male Giant Silkmoth in the family Saturniidae, and we are relatively certain it is a Luna Moth, and because of the feathery antennae, we believe this to be a male Luna Moth.  We got tremendous amusement from your letter because of your friend’s claim that it was eating wasps.  We are also amused that you made a point of stating that it does have a mouth, which implies that there is some reason to believe it doesn’t have a mouth.  According to all the material we have ever read regarding members of the family Saturniidae, “Adults do not feed” as is stated on BugGuide.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica:  “Adults have reduced, or vestigial, mouthparts, and many never feed.”  We were surprised to read that because based on that statement, some members of the family might feed.  We decided to dig deeper to search for reputable websites that confirm what we have known for many years.  According to the Study of Northern Virginia Ecology website which was developed for use by elementary age students in Northern Virginia to learn more about their local ecology:  “Adult Luna Moths don’t eat; in fact, they don’t even have a mouth.”  According to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences:  “They don’t feed at all as adults and instead depend on food they store as caterpillars to survive.”  According to Live Science:  “The adult Luna moth, for instance, doesn’t even have a mouth.”  According to the Habitat Herald Newsletter of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy:  “Luna Moths have no mouths, so they do not eat in this stage.”  We are also wondering why your friend would be circulating an image from this angle, because though it is still an interesting image, a dorsal view is ideal for displaying the beauty of the Luna Moth, which many people consider the loveliest North American insect.  Please ask your friend to provide any documentation of this Luna Moth eating wasps, because that image is sure to rock the world of biology to its very core.

Letter 65 – Spicebush Silkmoth


Ceanothus Silk Moth
I just discovered your site today! Awesome! Many times I spot bugs, and spiders (we live by a swamp) that I have never seen before. I believe this is a Ceanothus Silk Moth. We live in SE Michigan and the wing span was about 2.5-3 inches. I look forward to sending you more pictures, I have taken many over the years!
Chris W

Hi Chris,
You live out of the range of the Ceanothus Silkmoth. This is a Spicebush Silkmoth, Callosamia promethea, a very battered female. BugGuide has an excellent photo series of the entire life cycle.

Letter 66 – Spicebush Silkmoth lays eggs


Big beautiful furry moth laying eggs
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
December 18, 2010 1:59 pm
Hi, WTB. This photo was taken by a friend of my mother. He says they get several of these in their backyard a year. What’s that bug?
Signature: Eric

Spicebush Silkmoth

Hi Eric,
We are so thrilled that your photo includes this female Spicebush Silkmoth laying eggs.

Letter 67 – Sweetbay Silk Moth


Please confirm ID of moth photo attached
Wed, Apr 15, 2009 at 11:12 AM
This beautiful moth was found at 7:30 a.m. 4/15/09 in south central Florida in a transition area between pine flatwoods and hardwood hammock. From one other photo on your site, I believe it to be a Sweetbay silk moth (Callosamia securifera). Our moth is lighter in color though and markings seem a bit different. Can you please verify if this is indeed this species or if not, what species you think it might be? This is the first time I’ve seen this particular moth here.
Ranger Dorothy
Sebring, Florida (Highlands County)

Sweetbay Silk Moth
Sweetbay Silk Moth

Hi Ranger Dorothy,
We agree that this is a Sweetbay Silk Moth, Callosamia securifera. According to BugGuide: “Spring femles in the extreme south are often yellowish-orange.

Sweetbay Silk Moth
Sweetbay Silk Moth

Males are darker than females and often missing hind wing cell spots.” Your female specimen is one of the most delicately beautiful moths we have received in a very long time. Thanks so much for sending in the images.

Sweetbay Silk Moth
Sweetbay Silk Moth

Letter 68 – Sweetbay Silk Moths Mating


Moth Love
Found this pair of silk moths on my front porch today. They stayed there a couple of hours. Not quite sure what the actual name is, but pretty sure they are silk moths. Any help? PS – love how much your site is growing!
Kaye F.
Perry GA

Hi Kaye,
What wonderful images of mating Sweetbay Silk Moths, Callosamia securifera, you have sent our way. The caterpillars feed on Sweetbay Magnolia. This is a new species for our site.

Letter 69 – Sweetbay Silkmoth, we believe


Subject: Moth identification?
Location: Southeastern Alabama
June 24, 2016 5:34 pm
Found this little guy parked below my mailbox this afternoon.
Signature: Kyle

Sweetbay Silkmoth, perhaps
Sweetbay Silkmoth, perhaps

Dear Kyle,
This is one of the Giant Silkmoths in the genus
Callosamia.  We believe it is the Sweetbay Silkmoth, Callosamia securifera, and according to BugGuide:  “This species is subject to some seasonal variation. Typically, the Spring forms are lighter and brighter and the summer generations are usually darker and/or more washed out in appearance.”

Bill Oehlke weighs in on identification:
Could be either angulifera or securifera. If encountered flying during the day, this male would definitely be securifera.

Letter 70 – Syntherata janetta from New Guinea


Papua New Guinea, saturnid moth
Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 6:17 AM
Papua New Guinea, saturnid moth
We were on a diving trip in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea and some great moths appeared on the boat every night. We missed getting a photo of the big saturnid moth with long tails, but we did get a good photo of this yellow moth. It was quite common in that area of Milne Bay. Any idea what it is?
Bruce Carlson
Papua New Guinea, Milne Bay

Syntherata janetta from New Guinea
Syntherata janetta from New Guinea

Hi Bruce,
We identified your moth as Syntherata janetta on the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site which is membership only and run by Bill Oehlke. It is also found in Australia, and you may read about it on OzAnimals website where it is called an Emperor Moth. There are several color variations and the caterpillars feed on the leaves from a variety of trees, including citrus and guava.

Thanks!  If you’re ever in Atlanta, look me up.  I’ll show you around the Georgia Aquarium.

Letter 71 – Tasar Silkmoth from India, Antheraea mylitta


can you identify this moth ?
March 24, 2010
Dear Bugman,
We found this moth in our garden in a suburb of Hyderabad, India.This was inmid Oct. 2009
Hyderabad, India

Tasar Silkmoth

Hi Kobita,
There are several Giant Silkmoths in the genus Antheraea that are found in India, and your moth most closely resembles the Tasar Silkmoth, Antheraea mylitta
.  We found a near perfect match on the World’s Largest Saturniidae website, a members only site, but this is a highly variable species with many color variations.  You can get some information on the Wild Silk Base website.  We now believe a submission we originally identified as Antheraea mylitta is actually Antheraea paphia.  We will confirm this identification with Bill Oehlke.

Because of the size of the hyaline areas of the eyespots, I believe both moths are Antheraea mylitta.
Bill Oehlke

Letter 72 – The Virginian


This beautiful moth, about 1.5 inches long, has been on my screen door all morning. I’m afraid to disturb it before I learn what it is. I live in NE Alabama and we have wonderful bugs here! I love your website. Thanks!

Hi Martha,
We believe this to be The Virginian, Anisota virginiensis. You did a pretty good job with BugGuide.

Letter 73 – The Virginian


Orange Bug
We found this bug in our front yard this morning. My husband screamed and ran to get the camera. Can you tell us what it is?
Amy Lutero
Richmond, Virginia

Hi Amy,
I hope your husband has stopped screaming and is standing ready with the camera. You have a newly metamorphosed Virginian Anisota, Anisota virginiensis, a female. The moths pupate in the ground without a cocoon. The caterpillar feeds on oaks. As the name implies, the moth is local for you, ranging throughout the Appalacians from Canada to the Carolinas, and occasionally as far West as Kansas and Missouri. The wings will expand with time, and if you are ready with the camera, you should have a lovely photo of the fully matured and flight ready moth, who will soon have male suitors attracted to her.

Letter 74 – Tulip Tree Silk Moth


moth found in Alabama
Can you tell me what this is? I took the picture in NW Alabama. Some kind of moth??
Beth Conklin

Hi Beth,
Your photo of a female Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera, is very beautiful. These moths range from New England to Florida and West to the Mississippi River. Here is a nice site that shows the life cycle of your moth. The moths are strongly attracted to lights.

Letter 75 – Tulip Tree Silk Moth


Sorry about the bad photo, but I couldn’t find this butterfly on your site. We’re in Northeast Tennessee.
The Brents

Hi Brents,
This is one of the Saturnid Moths. We are reluctant to give an exact species based on the photo.

OK, I reviewed your moth photos (silly me thought he was a butterfly since he had four wings; have since educated myself on the difference) and determined he is definitely a Tulip Tree Silk Moth as in your photo. Makes sense since we have a ton of yellow poplars. Thanks once again for your most educational and useful site.

Letter 76 – Tulip Tree Silk Moth


Promethea, Luna and Imperial Moths
Hope I have the right IDs on these 3 moths. My name is Barbara Edwards and I live in Macon, Ga. The Imperial Moth was taken 2 days ago and the Promethea and Luna was taken last year.

Hi Barbara,
While the Luna and Imperial Moths are correctly identified, the moth you believe to be a Promethea Moth is actually another moth in the same genus, the Tulip Tree Silk Moth, Callosamia angulifera. Your specimen is a female.

Letter 77 – Tulip Tree Silk Moth


Please help us identify this beautiful moth!
Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 8:16 AM
Hey Mr. Bugman! We LOVE your website and use it to identify little critters we find around our wooden lot in North Central Maryland on the PA line. This morning we spotted this gorgeous moth, took pictures and immediately tried to identify it on your site…with out much success or time to spend looking. Please let us know if you can help us out. I have attached several pictures as it was so beautiful that I took A Lot! Thanks for all you do to provide such an educational site for us to view (we are homeschoolers, use it often and have spread the word to others)
Kindly, Valerie Corkran
North Central Maryland (Manchester)

Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Hey Valerie,
We love getting enthusiastic letters with wonderful photos like yours.  This is a female Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera.  You can read more about it on BugGuide. We feel confident that it is not the closely related  and similar appearing Promethea Moth, Callosamia promethea.

Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Letter 78 – Tulip Tree Silk Moth lays eggs


My Spring Moth Collection (digital, of course)
May 11, 2010
Hello Daniel and Lisa,
There has been a huge variety of moths visiting under the safety light this Spring, but I hesitate to send the photos on to you.  I know that this is a very busy time.
Some that I’d like to send:
1. Tiger Moth, Spilomosa congrua
2. Tiger Moth, Spilomosa dubia
for your Tiger Moth page.
3. White-dotted Prominent, Nadata gibbosa
for your Prominent page.
4. Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera, laying eggs (I’m assuming they’re hers)
5. Eggs all over the wall.
There are so many including Laudable Arches, Polyphemus, Common Emerald that I hope I’ve identified correctly, and so many more that I haven’t yet been able to identify.
Let me know if you have time and if you’re interested in my silly stuff.
R.G. Marion
The Great Smoky Mountains, TN

May 22, 2010
Dear RG,
Your letter arrived in our absence (Mother’s Day visit) and we are just catching up on old mail.  Please resend this letter with the Tulip Tree Silkmoth.

Tulip Tree Silk Moth lays eggs

Hoping your Mother’s Day visit was wonderful…
At one time, there were as many as five of these beauties on the wall.

Letter 79 – Tulip-Tree Silkmoth


Cecropia moth?
I took this picture while hiking in the Great Falls region of Maryland. Trudging down a pine-needle blanketed path in a thickly-wooded area I spotted this little guy resting on an old log, brilliantly displayed in a shaft of sunlight. After looking through the other moth pages, it appears that this might be a Cecropia moth? Thanks!

Hi Marco,
This is actually another of the Saturnid Moths, the Tulip-Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera. It is found in the East and Midwestern States from Canada to Florida and west to Illinois. The strong side-lighting brings out the wing texture nicely in your photo.

Letter 80 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


moths to share
I took these last August in Ghent, W Va. at my mothers house. i’d like to share them with you. I pretty sure the green one is a Luna Moth. I would like to identify the other 2, if you have time. Looks like you were overloaded from your vacation. This is a pretty typical night at my mothers house, lots of cool bug (insects). Where in Ohio did you go? I"m from the Akron area myself. Regards,
Firefighter Dwayne West
I just sent you some photos from me. After further browsing your site, I have identified the other 2 as an Io and a Polyphemus. You have an outstanding website. It will be used often by me, as I have put it in my favorites. Again, OUTSTANDING website. Regards,
Dwayne West

Dear Firefighter Dwayne,
Since you have correctly identified your Luna Moth and your male IO Moth, we will concentrate on the remaining moth that you incorrectly identified as a Polyphemus Moth. It is in fact a Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera. BugGuide has many additional images and much information. Like all Giant Silk Moths, the Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Io Moth and Luna Moth do not feed as adults. They live to mate. Your mother’s home must be a moth aficionado’s dream. I just returned from my mother’s house in a small town just east of Youngstown, Ohio.

Letter 81 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


Tan Cecropia Moth?
July 27, 2009
I work at a quarry in south central kentucky. Generally finding large silkmoths is relatively easy each year approaching fall. One day there was a large polyphemus male, and the next another smaller moth i initially mistook for a polyphemus. When the wings spread.. well, the rest is history!
I have no idea what kind of moth this is. Its pattern is very similar to a cecropia. This is a small male, its wingspan only about 4 inches or so. Much smaller than previous polyphemus that i’ve found. We have found one large expired ‘black type’ cecropia here. But i’ve never seen one like this. A cousin perhaps?
Thanks for the help!
A Lover of giant silk moths
warren county Kentucky

Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Dear Lover,
WE believe this is a Tulip Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera, and we believe it is a female and not a male based on the coloration and antennae.  You can compare your moth to images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 82 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


Location: Gatlinburg, TN
May 7, 2011 8:16 am
Picture taken in Gatlinburg, TN near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in late April. I think it is a tulip tree moth, but not sure. Thanks for your help!
Signature: Christine Varner

Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Dear Christine,
We agree with your assessment that this is a Tulip Tree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera, and we would add that it is a female.  According to BugGuide: Males are brown centrally, females yellowish brown. On females the angular white spots are largest on the forewings.”

Letter 83 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


Subject:  comment to Tulip Tree Silk Moth
Location:  Charlotte County, Virginia
June 11, 2014 10:18 AM
Thanks; I’m still confused, though; the two species look very much alike. I’ve been an amateur lepidopterist since I was a kid back in the 1950s and hadn’t heard of a Tulip tree silk moth till recently.  I’ve attached two pictures taken on my front porch, 3 years apart almost to the day.  I know they are females, even though they are rather dark.  I’ve seen the males here too.  I hope you can tell me which species we have.  I’m guessing Angulifera, based on the forewing eyespots.  We have most of the Promethea’s food sources on our property, so they could be either.  I live in Charlotte County Virginia, south of Appomattox.

Female Promethea or Tulip Tree Silkmoth???
Female Promethea or Tulip Tree Silkmoth???

Since your questions began as comments to a Tulip Tree Silkmoth posting, we are linking back to that.  Wow, this is a tough one, and since you live in an area where the ranges of the two species overlap, we could go either way.  We are guessing that they are most likely the same species, and we are also guessing that since they look yellowish, that they are most likely the Tulip Tree Silkmoth, which is described on BugGuide.  We are going to send your images to Bill Oehlke to try to get his opinion.

Female Promethea or Tulip Tree Silkmoth???
Female Promethea or Tulip Tree Silkmoth???

Bill Oehlke Confirms
By location, both should be angulifera.
By appearance the one with #2 in its name looks most like angulifera; the
other one with more yellowish scaling in the pm area looks more like
securifera, but it could also be angulifera.
If I could only make one guess, my guess would be they are both angulifera.

Letter 84 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


Subject: Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Location: Olney, Maryland, USA
July 2, 2014 5:15 pm
We were vacationing in Maryland at the end of May, and this beautiful moth visited us one evening. Using your site I identified him as a Tulip Tree silkmoth, do you concur? Sorry about the grainy quality of the photos, it was dark and he was vibrating his wings while he sat on me.
Thanks for all your hard work and insight, whatsthatbug inspires me daily.
Signature: Emily

Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Dear Emily,
We agree that this is either a Tulip Tree Silkmoth, which can be viewed on BugGuide, though we would not rule out another member of the genus 
Callosamia.  Where we disagree with your identification is the sex.  This individual is a female as evidenced by the less feathery antennae.

Thanks for the fast reply, I appreciate you taking the time. Less feathery? Wow, I thought they looked pretty feathery indeed, the male’s antennae must be amazing!

Hi again Emily,
You can compare the difference between the antennae of the male and female of the closely related Promethea Moths in this image.

Letter 85 – Tulip Tree Silkmoth


Subject: What kind of moth is this?
Location: Canton, GA
April 16, 2016 9:16 am
I opened my front door this morning to find this very large moth on the door. Could you give me any information regarding what type of moth he is, and perhaps what might have caused his wings to become so damaged.
Signature: Jennifer W

Tulip Tree Silkmoth
Tulip Tree Silkmoth

Dear Jennifer,
This is a Tulip Tree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera, and your individual is a female based on the shape of her antennae.  Silkmoths do not eat as adults, and they live long enough to mate and lay eggs.  Your individual appears to have had an encounter with a bird or other predator, based on the ragged condition of her wings.

Letter 86 – Spicebush Silkmoth


What kind of moth?
July 15, 2009
Hi again Bugman. I captured this moth with my camera this evening (7/15/2009). I believe it is of the giant silkworm variety but I cannot pin down the exact species. Could you tell me its correct name?
Chris Walker, Stroudsburg, PA
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Tulip-Tree Silkmoth we believe
Spicebush Silkmoth

Dear Chris,
Your moth is in the genus Callosamia.  We are undecided as to whether it is the Spicebush Silkmoth, Callosamia promethea, or the Tulip-Tree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera.  Both are well represented on BugGuide.  This specimen is a female.  If we were betting the 50/50 odds, we would be inclined to say this is the Tulip-Tree Silkmoth based on one particular posting to BugGuide.   An open winged view would be most helpful.  Perhaps one of our readers with more skills can properly identify this moth to the species level.

August 10, 2009
I’m a lepidopterist and I was flipping through your pages and found on July 17th, the image of a moth. You couldn’t decide between Callosamia Promethia or Angulifera. I would say it is a Promethia because the white marking is not quite as angular as it usually is with Anguliferas. Also, if you need any help with Butterfly or Moth IDs, I’d be happy to assist and give information.
Teddy Kesting-Handly

Letter 87 – Tulip-Tree Silkmoth, we believe


Subject:  What type of moth is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Northeast GA mountain foothills bordering Chattahoochee National Forest.  Elevation about 1500’.
Date: 04/26/2019
Time: 01:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I spotted this moth 4/25/19 on an outside wall of house not far from a nighttime security light.  The edge of the retracted wings looked like a profile of a snake head or a fish head complete with an eye & scales. On the wing closer to the body there was a perfect replica of college football’s Texas Longhorn symbol, color & all.  The body & feet looked like a hugely engorged giant tick.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you for identifying & providing any info on this moth, as well as it’s caterpillar stage, Steve.

Tulip-Tree Silkmoth, we believe

Dear Steve,
We believe your Giant Silkmoth is a Tulip-Tree Silkmoth,
Callosamia angulifera, based on this BugGuide image, though there are several closely related species that look similar that are also found in Georgia.  BugGuide also has images of its caterpillar.

Letter 88 – Tuliptree Silkmoth


Tuliptree Silkmoth
Dear Lisa & Daniel:
Here are two pictures of a lovely female Tuliptree Silkmoth (Callosamia Angulifera) taken last evening (wings closed) and this morning (wings fully open) at my vacation home in the North Carolina mountains. I didn’t find any examples of this lovely large moth on the website. . .hope you can use my pictures!
Kind regards,
Ann Kallal

Hi Ann,
Your photos of the Tuliptree Silkmoth are lovely and much welcomed. We had to “conform” the proportion of the open winged shot to match the close winged shot by using a little quick Photoshop magic, but the images are otherwise unaltered.

Letter 89 – Tuliptree Silkmoth


I’m stumped! What’s this bug?!
Hi Bugman!
Thanks for such a fab site! I took these pictures of a beautiful moth yesterday in my backyard in Decatur, GA. It fluttered away shortly thereafter. I initially thought it might be a Cecropia Moth, but some of its markings are inconsistent with the pictures I’ve looked at: it is lacking the vivid body color, for example, and the white crescent shapes on the wings seem too small. I’ve poured over all your moth pictures and those on some other sites, but am still stumped! Can you help? Many, many thanks…keep doing what you do!
Tracy D. James
Decatur, GA

Hi Tracy,
This is a Tuliptree Silkmoth, Callosamia angulifera, and it the second example we have received today. The first was from Virginia.

Letter 90 – Tuliptree Silkmoth


Prometheus or Tulip Tree Silkmoth?
Location: Clifton, Virginia
June 30, 2011 1:03 pm
Hi! This gorgeous moth was playing around my porch light last night (6/29/2011), and I spent over an hour watching and photgraphing her. I thought at the time that she is a Prometheus (Callosamia promethea), but now Googling has led me to find out that she may be a Tulip-Tree Silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera), which looks very similar. I’m having a tough time deciding which she is, and I’m about all googled out. Help, please? Thanks!
Signature: Ericka

Tuliptree Silkmoth

Hi Ericka,
You did a nice job of sleuthing.  In our opinion, this is a male Tuliptree Silkmoth.  It looks nearly identical to this image on BugGuide.  We are suffering from Google overdose ourselves and we are about to close the office and enjoy the beautiful Southern California day.

Hi Daniel.
Thank you so much for the speedy reply. Good to know! I do have loads of tulip trees in the yard, so that makes sense. I didn’t realize there was another moth species that looks so similar to C. promethea. I will rename my photo files and stop referring to said moth in the feminine.
Have a great evening!

Letter 91 – Two Silkworm Moths from Brazil


3 more moths from Rio
December 5, 2009
Dear WTB
Here are three more ID queries from my Brazilian photo collection.
The first is a big female Eacles, but I can’t match it up to a species.
The second is a mystery – I can’t even place it in a family. About 3cm long.
Number three is a strange hook-tipped moth that I think may be a saturnid of some sort, but I can’t find anything close online. A bit over 2 cm long.
I also used to get the Black Witch moths that you feature every year, only we had them in January and February, before they head north. I even managed to breed them on one occasion – spectacular caterpillars.
Any pointers you can give on the above would be gratefully received.
Nick P
SE Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

Eacles imperialis cacicus perhaps
Eacles imperialis magnifica

Hi Nick,
Our best resource for identifying Saturniid Moths is the World’s Largest Saturniidae Site that is a membership website.  We have gone through hundred of images of Giant Silk Moths from Brazil and we believe we can identify two of your specimens.  The female Eacles is possibly Eacles imperialis cacicus, and we found a link to a Saturniidae Breeder website that has an image of a pair for comparison.  The hook-tipped moth proved to be somewhat elusive, but we feel we found a close match in a male Hylesia nanus, though it may be a closely related species.  We then located an additional image of it on the Moths of Guyana website.  It is a mounted specimen, but it looks quite similar to your live specimen.  The third moth we believe is a Sphinx Moth and we will continue to research and post it separately.  We will try to contact Bill Oehlke to see if he agrees with these two Saturniidae identifications.

Hylesia nanus possibly
Hylesia nanus

Slight correction to subspecies from Bill Oehlke
I would go with
Eacles imperialis magnifica from Rio de Janeiro and
Hylesia nanus from Rio de Janeiro
Please ask your source to contact me as there are many Saturniidae of great interest to me from Rio de Janiero. I can probalby also id the Sphingidae if you/he want to send it along.
Bill Oehlke

Hi Daniel
Thanks very much for the very prompt reply and the IDs. The two links are also much appreciated – I had not found the Guyana one before, possibly because it is in French! but the collection of photos is excellent.  I have already got a lead on one of the other pics I submitted (the black moth with larva in my previous message) which looks to be an Arctiid, a Ctenuchinid, possibly of the genus Ptychotrichos based on similar wing pattern.
I have already emailed Bill back and hopefully can send him some images for his site.
Many thanks

Letter 92 – Unknown Caterpillar Invasion in Thailand may be Silkworm


Invasion Phuket : The Next Wave – 26.01.10
January 26, 2010
Hi Daniel,
Greetings from Phuket once again and a belated Happy New Year for 2010.
I’m not sure if you remember, but I contacted you in December 2007 with regards to an infestation of Atticus Atlas (in the large and slightly scary larval stage) at one of the properties we manage.
Today we have another infestation at another property that we manage involving these hard to discern little chaps, please see the attachments.

Unidentified Caterpillars: Early Instar???

We would be most grateful for your identification skills so that we can establish if they are friend of foe. Needless to say – the Villa Owners are not too keen on them as their pools are becoming clogged with caterpillar droppings.

Caterpillar Droppings

Thanking you once again for your assistance.
With kind regards,
Phuket Branch, Thailand

Unidentified Caterpillar

Hi Mark,
We fondly remember your Atlas Moth Caterpillar letter quite well.  This current request will take some research, and we may just post it as unidentified and turn our readership loose since we have two pressing letters to write this morning to local city councilmembers.  We would like to request some additional information, mainly, the species of tree that the caterpillars are feeding upon.  It looks like it might be some species of fig.  That would greatly assist in the identification process.  Also, in one image, there are a great number of Caterpillars.  Is that a grouping of smaller, younger individuals?  We cannot find a match on the caterpillar page of the Thai Bugs website.

Unidentified Caterpillar

Update from Karl
Hi Daniel and Mark:
The host tree looks like a fig, possibly Ficus retusa, and I am fairly certain the caterpillars are Bombycidae (Silkworm Moths). Beyond that it gets difficult but I think the most likely candidate genera are Trilocha or Ocinara, both of which feed on fig trees and are common in southeast Asia. These genera are very closely related and may even be synonymous, at least for some species. The thoracic swelling that is evident, particularly in the smaller individuals, is common among Bombycidae larvae. The smaller ones also appear to have a caudal horn, another common feature. I don’t see a horn in the other photos but the angles are wrong and, in any event, these horns typically get shorter or disappear as the larvae grow. The head region of the larger individuals looks similar to another related species, the Domestic Silkworm Moth (Bombyx mori), which does not occur in the wild.  If I had to guess I would go with either O. albicollis or T. varians, which may in fact be color variations of the same species, according to some sources. Reference photos of larvae are difficult to find and the adults would likely be easier to identify, so perhaps you could submit another photo when they emerge. Regards.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the information.
My team are currently trying to identify the tree in question. As soon as we get a handle on it we’ll let you know.
In terms of treatment, do you have any recommendations ? As you know, I’m loathe to terrorise them with a toxic, chemical bath. If we leave them alone, will they eventually go of their own volition ?
Thanks again for your superb help.
With kind regards,

Hi Mark,
If this is the first year that they appeared, it is probably just a seasonal population explosion.  They will probably mature shortly and then their population will return to its normal numbers.  We would refrain from extreme chemical measures.

Hi again Daniel,
My on site team have given it their best guess as a Ficus benghalensis.
Please see the link below.
With kind regards,

Cheers, Daniel.
Music to my ears.
Have a great day and all the best,

Letter 93 – Unknown Caterpillar from Panama: Erinnyis species


Subject: Caterpillar in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama
April 9, 2014 1:11 pm
Hi. I found this caterpillar in my front yard near Almirante, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama (on the mainland across from Isla Pastor). We’re right next to a mangrove swamp and a rainforest, but I unfortunately don’t know what plant the caterpillar is on. It was spotted April 4, 2014 around 10:00 in the morning. I haven’t been able to determine what type of caterpillar it is, but I do love how it looks like it’s boxings an invisible nemesis!
Signature: Elizabeth

Unknown Caterpillar
Erinnyis species Caterpillar

Hi Elizabeth,
Your photos are gorgeous and this caterpillar is magnificent, and we wanted to post your images prior to identifying it.  Our first thought is a member of the family Sphingidae, the Hornworms which metamorphose into Hawkmoths, and our second guess if family Saturniidae, the Giant Silkmoths.  We tried searching some of the possibilities on the Sphingidae of Panama site, but without any luck, so we have contacted Bill Oehlke who runs that site and who specializes in both Sphingidae and Saturniidae.  We hope to hear something conclusive from his very soon.  In the meantime, we need to get a few more tomato plants in the ground.

Unknown Caterpillar
Erinnyis species Caterpillar

WTB? Contacts Bill Oehlke
Hi Bill,
These gorgeous photos of a gorgeous caterpillar just arrived.  The sighting was “Almirante, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama (on the mainland across from Isla Pastor). We’re right next to a mangrove swamp and a rainforest.”
I tried the Eumorpha in Panama first because of the stubby horn, but many do not include caterpillar images, and I also checked some of the Dilophonotini because the prolegs remind me of a tetrio sphinx.  I thought you might recognize this beauty.
I think yucantana would be much less likely than one of the other Erinnyis species, but I would not rule it out as a possibility.

Bill Oehlke narrows the possibilities:
It appears to be one of the Erinnyis species. There are many of them in Panama, and they can be quite variable. The anal horn in this genus becomes quite reduced in the final instar.
I believe you are right that it is one of the Dilophonotini. There are other genera in this tribe that also have the stubby horn. I simply do not have images of them for comparison.

Hi again Elizabeth,
Bill Oehlke agrees with our assessment that this Hornworm or Sphinx Caterpillar is likely in the tribe Dilophonotini, and be believes it is in the genus
Erinnyis, but he does not have caterpillar images of all the species.  The stubby horn and markings on the prolegs are similar the characteristics of the highly variable larva of the Ello Sphinx, Erinnyis ello, and one of the caterpillars pictured on the Sphingidae of Panama site looks similar.  An image on the Government of Bermuda Ministry of Public Works Department of Conservation Services  website Bermuda Conservation page of the Ello Sphinx Caterpillar also exhibits those similarities.  There are also Ello Sphinx Hornworms pictured on BugGuide that look similar.  So, our conclusion, with the assistance of Bill Oehlke, is that this caterpillar is in the genus Erinnyis, and it might be the highly variable caterpillar of an Ello Sphinx, or it may be a closely related species in the genus that is not as well known without images of the caterpillar readily available.

Ed. Note:  April 10, 2014
Thanks to a comment from Bostjan Dvorak, we now believe this is
Erinnyis yucatana, and more information can be located at Sphingidae of the Americas.

Bill Oehlke’s Opinion
I think yucantana would be much less likely than one of the other Erinnyis species, but I would not rule it out as a possibility.

Thanks! I was having no luck finding pages for caterpillar identification, so this really helps. You guys are awesome and I love the website. I’ll have to ask my husband about the plant as I have no idea what type it is. Once I find that out I’ll post the answer. Thanks again.


Letter 94 – Variable Prince from South Africa


Subject: Some kind of moth
Location: Pretoria south africa
July 3, 2016 1:19 pm
Hi this moth hatched in the tree outside in my garden.
Signature: Peter

Variable Prince
Variable Prince

Dear Peter,
We believe we have correctly identified your Giant Silkmoth as a Variable Prince,
Holocerina smilax.  According to African Moths, it has been reported from:  “DRCongo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.”  Colnect indicates a drawing of the Variable Prince appeared on a stamp from French Colonies and Territories Afars and Issas which is present-day Djibouti.

Letter 95 – "Winking" Polyphemus Moth


Subject: Antheraea polyphemus?
Location: Roanoke, VA
November 13, 2012 10:51 pm
Hello Bugman,
I was visiting a friend in Roanoke, VA during one of our rare breaks last fall
when I stumbled upon this fabulous moth on the wall of her apartment building.
Since one of these pictures in particular came out so well, I felt compelled to share them. I hope you like them as much as I do. (S)he was somewhat out of it, not reacting much to stimuli, so I brought her to the trunk of a nearby tree where she was much less conspicuous.
All the best,
Greg H
PS – I stumbled upon WTB a few months ago and since then it has become a big part of my day. You’re a hero to bug lovers everywhere!
Signature: Greg H

Polyphemus Moth “winking”

Hi Greg,
Thanks for your kind email.  You are correct.  This is a female Polyphemus Moth.  Our favorite thing about your photo is that she appears to be winking with one of her eyespots.  It is generally accepted that the eyespots on the underwings of many moths is a form of protective camouflage.  The spots are not visible until the moth is disturbed by a possible predator that might be startled when the “eyes” appear, creating the illusion that the moth is a much larger creature than anticipated, and possibly something that might turn the tables and eat the predator.   The slim antennae in the second photo indicates that this Polyphemus Moth is a female as the males have feathery antennae to better sense the pheromones of the female.  While we cannot know for certain that moving her to a tree enabled her to mate and lay eggs, your good intentions earn you the Bug Humanitarian Award.

Polyphemus Moth



  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Giant Silk Moth

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42 Comments. Leave new

  • Mr. Bugman…
    My sons and I were delighted to see our Tulip Tree Silkmoth identified and our pictures posted for all to see!!! How fun! Thanks for your help! We are now going to be on the hunt for more bugs for you to identify for us!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
    Valerie, Riley and Wesley

  • Scott Smith
    July 26, 2009 2:38 pm


    I can confirm that the specimen you posted found on the shores of Pend Orielle Lake is in fact H.kasloensis. Although there are reported records of other species native to Idaho, I believe all except H.kasloensis and H.gloveri are misidentifications.

    H.gloveri (which has been recently been grouped into H.columbia by M.Collins) occurs further South and East of H.kasloensis with some areas of natural ingrade populations between the 2 species in areas of S.E. Idaho. My research does not support M.Collins conclusions, I still consider H.columbia and H.gloveri to be 2 sepperate species. I am continuing with genetic studies within the Hylophora genus and am always looking for specimens (alive or dead in any stage) with good local specific data. Feel free to contact me at,

    Best regards,
    Scott Smith

  • Haven’t checked in a couple of days, but there was recently one of these on a bush in my backyard. (Berks County, PA)

  • dcris,

    The specimen you observed in your yard in PA would be a specimen of Hyalophora cecropia, that is the only Hyalophora species found in your state. I did recieve your e-mail with this photo (fully grown 5th instar larva) which confirms it. Awesome photo by the way! 🙂

  • Hi Daniel,

    It’s great to read your description. Sometimes I think that most of those who write about insects either demonize them or render them through scientific discourse. Neither of those approaches can help us appreciate what’s around us.



  • Please help me!!! I believe a rothschildia came to my house an laid eggs… now eggs are hatched (40)… many of my cat have died because of my ignorance, didn’t know about what to feed them, stressing them, molting. etc….. until now I had 10 but I think I just killed one (the oldest one) 🙁 (so sad) because I hurt her without knowing that maybe she is about to start a metamorphosis…. please… i love them!!! they were born between the 12th and 18th july… today is the 31…. what now… No one answers !!! Please let me know how to take care of them… i know nothing about butterflies !!!

  • I don’t have a website. Just wanted to see if and how I could submit pictures. Is it only for identifying moths?

  • Also, is the sweetbay the tree that we call a bay tree that is similar to the magnolia?

  • lilia nacimento
    November 4, 2013 7:24 am

    Me podrían ayudar por que tengo dos mariposa con estas características en mi casa y pusieron huevos y no se que hacer con ellos, si me pueden ayudar desde ya muchas gracias .

    • Hola Lilia,
      Por favor perdona, como el español no es el mejor. Si tuvieras las polillas de seda Rothschildia ponen huevos, lo harán probablemente escotilla dentro de una semana y tendrá que proporcionar las orugas jóvenes con comida. Algunos te deja intento alimentar las orugas puede incluir: Ailanthus altissima o árbol del cielo, Ligustrum o Privet, Quercus o Robles y Syringa vulgaris o Lila común.

      Hi Lilia,
      Please forgive as our Spanish is not the best. If you had Rothschildia Silk Moths lay eggs, they will likely hatch within a week and you will need to provide the young caterpillars with food. Some leaves you might try feeding the caterpillars include: Ailanthus altissima or Tree of Heaven, Ligustrum or Privet, Quercus or Oak and Syringa vulgaris or Common lilac.

  • Bostjan Dvorak
    April 9, 2014 11:59 pm

    Fascinating caterpillar! It shows some similarity to the genus of Erinnyis, though its warning position is quite unusual for these; maybe a member of a related Macroglossinae genus. Great photos!

    Nice wishes from Berlin

  • Bostjan Dvorak
    April 10, 2014 7:35 am

    Trying to define my first assumption; this is clearly Erinnyis yucatana, but the green form. There is a shrub with long narrow leaves and big yellow blossoms close to the place, when I am right. Its name is Thevetia, from the Apocynaceae family, and it bears big round soft green fruits on its twigs. Am I right?

  • Bostjan Dvorak
    April 18, 2014 7:08 pm

    Many Thanks for the interesting information! I realize You have a wonderful environment with a rich nature, like a paradise; with so many different kinds of plants, the caterpillar could really be of quite some other Erinnyis species as well. What a fascinating genus of hawkmoths. And I am sure You will discover many more caterpillars in Your garden.

    Happy Easter, many further interesting discoveries and nicest wishes from Berlin to all of You,

  • We found one on our front step and brought it in. It didn’t try to fly away. Later that night it laid eggs on the walls of the container. Curious as to whether they die after giving birth! What will the larva need to eat??

    • Adult Giant Silkmoths, including the Spicebush Silkmoth, die soon after mating. The caterpillars feed on “leaves of apple, ash, basswood, birch, cherry, lilac, maple, sassafras, sipcebush, sweetgum, tulip-tree (1); also recorded on buttonbush, magnolia, and other trees” according to BugGuide.

  • How does one tell the difference between a Promethea and a Tulip Tree Silkmoth? The difference between male and female is obvious, but the adult females look the same to me, even considering individual variations in color.

    • We would refer you to BugGuide descriptions. Here is the description of the Promethea Moth on BugGuide: “Adult: male wings blackish except for faint whitish PM line, pale tan terminal border, and pink shading around apical spot; female wings bright reddish to dark brown, usually with well-developed reniform spots [description by Charles Covell] thin meandering line near outer margin of forewing resembles side view of a set of molars in a jaw bone”, and here is the description of the Tulip Tree Silkmoth on BugGuide: “Males are brown centrally, females yellowish brown. On females the angular white spots are largest on the forewings.” We would suggest that you compare images on BugGuide. The two species do look quite similar since they are in the same genus.

  • Looks like or close to the one you guys identified here:

    • Thanks Cesar. You are correct. We had a long day away from the office and we just updated the posting with Bill Oehlke’s confirmation of the species. I did link to the same posting you provided.
      Have a great day.

  • Looks like or close to the one you guys identified here:

  • I know this was posted quite a while ago, but if I may, this looks like the self-sustaining hybrid Hyalophora kasloensis (a random mixture of euryalus x gloveri genes). Though it seems a bit too far west for that variation to occur, it may be just far enough north that gloveri influence may have migrated down from Canada. Columbia just can’t travel that far west due to geographical barriers and host isolation. The foliage in the second picture is definitely fir needles (not an uncommon host for northern or high elevation euryalus). The slender, peg-like scoli on its dorsal and sides shine more true to euryalus anyway so it could also just be rare phenotypical aberation associated with that population of euryalus.

  • Hi, I’m glad to read about Rothschildia again. Thanks to this site I could get to discover more of this species. In my case I found 4 caterpillars and according to Bill Oehlke (Thanks What’s That Bug?) they could be R. orizaba orizaba or R. peggyae, so I asked a close entomologist and she thinks it might be R. orizaba. Apparently it is very difficult to identify accurately, even as moths. I’m of State of Mexico and this weather will take 4-5 weeks (have your camera ready!). The species is commonly known as “Mariposa de Cuatro Espejos” in Mexico and is endangered. The common name it’s applied to multiple Rothschildia species. Here’s some pics taken by me if you’re interested: – Good luck! 🙂

  • Phyllis Dupree
    June 11, 2016 5:26 pm

    Could it be possible that the wasp was eating or attaching it self to the moth?

  • Matthew Cock
    July 21, 2017 2:33 pm

    I agree with the identification (a male), but note that this species is previously recorded from Trinidad (although misspelt):
    Quesnel, V.C. (1978) Dirphia tarquina a new moth for Trinidad. Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club 1977-1978, 14.

  • Matthew Cock
    July 21, 2017 2:33 pm

    I agree with the identification (a male), but note that this species is previously recorded from Trinidad (although misspelt):
    Quesnel, V.C. (1978) Dirphia tarquina a new moth for Trinidad. Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club 1977-1978, 14.

  • We just found one in our yard and we are in mississippi and it’s way larger and has more spikes on him. Are they dangerous

  • Looks like Citheronia sp.

  • ernest reddick
    August 10, 2019 4:58 pm

    I just saw yellow jackets attacking one.

  • I think Bill identified this larvae (or maybe close species) on this posting:

  • I also found them in Kasaragod district of kerala


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