Male Polyphemus Moth

Subject: moth
Location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
July 10, 2014 6:11 pm
I am curious about this moth I saw recently inside Mesa Verde, especially the antenna. Thanks, Betsy
Signature: Betsy

Male Western Polyphemus Moth
Male Polyphemus Moth

Dear Betsy,
This is a male Giant Silkworm Moth in the genus
Antheraea, and based on the location, we would deduce it is the Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus. The extremely feathery antennae of male Giant Silkworm Moths in the family Saturniidae enable them to locate a mate.  Adult moths in this family are often very large and they do not feed as adults as they have inherited atrophied mouthparts that are not functional.  They store energy as caterpillars and most individuals live less than a week as adults, during which time males must locate mates.  The antennae enable the male to sense a female who may be many miles away because of the pheromones she releases.

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