Oculea Moth: All You Need to Know for a Fascinating Discovery

The Oculea moth is a fascinating species of moths that falls under the Order Lepidoptera, sharing this order with butterflies. With over 160,000 species of moths in the world, this diverse group of insects displays a wide range of behaviors and adaptations that make them stand out from other creatures in the insect world.

Some key features of the Oculea moth include:

  • Nocturnal behavior: Many moth species, including Oculea, are active at night, pollinating flowers and helping with plant reproduction.
  • Scaled wings: Similar to butterflies, moths possess tiny overlapping scales on their wings, creating intricate patterns and colors.

Oculea moths, like many other moth species, serve as pollinators and contribute to the overall health of the ecosystems they inhabit. Whether hovering above flowers or landing on them, these moths play a crucial role in the plant reproduction process, helping maintain plant diversity and supporting other wildlife in their habitats.

Oculea Moth Overview

Species and Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Antheraea
  • Species: Antheraea oculea

The Oculea moth belongs to the Antheraea genus in the Saturniidae family. This family is comprised of a diverse range of moth species, which share certain characteristics like large wingspans and vivid patterns.

Antheraea Oculea

Antheraea oculea is a species of moth found in forests and wooded areas. It is known for its large size and distinctive eye-like markings on its wings. These markings serve as a defense mechanism to deter predators by mimicking the eyes of larger animals.

  • Wingspan: Up to 5 inches (12.7 cm)
  • Habitat: Forests and wooded areas

Some features of Antheraea oculea include:

  • Large, eye-like markings on wings
  • Diverse range of colors and patterns
  • Large wingspan for a moth species

Saturniidae

The Saturniidae family encompasses a wide variety of moth species, commonly referred to as giant silk moths. These typically large moths have unique wing patterns and vibrant colors. A few notable members of this family include:

  • Luna moth (Actias luna)
  • Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia)
  • Prometheus moth (Callosamia promethea)
  • Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis)
Species Wingspan Range Main Distinguishing Feature
Antheraea oculea Up to 5 inches Eye-like markings on its wings
Luna moth 3 to 4 inches Long, curved tails on wings
Cecropia moth 5 to 6 inches Red body with white bands
Prometheus moth 2.5 to 4.5 inches Striking black and white wings
Imperial moth Up to 7 inches Yellow wings with brown blotches

The Saturniidae family of moths offers a diverse range of species with varying sizes, colors, and patterns. Their beauty and captivating appearance make them a popular subject of fascination and study among both scientists and enthusiasts.

Physical Characteristics

Wings and Eyespots

  • The Oculea moth has distinct wings with unique features.
  • Its wings have large, circular eyespots that function as a defense mechanism against predators.

Coloration

  • Oculea moths exhibit a variety of colors, which may include muted shades of brown, gray, or green.
  • These colors help them blend in with their surroundings, providing effective camouflage.

Antennae

  • Male Oculea moths have well-developed antennae that are used to detect the pheromones of female moths.
  • The male’s antennae differ from females in that they are thinner and more feathery.

Comparison Table: Male vs. Female Oculea Moths

Feature Male Oculea Moths Female Oculea Moths
Antennae Thin and feathery Thicker and less feathery
Wingspan Often slightly smaller Often slightly larger
Eyespots Prominent on wings Prominent on wings

Behavior and Habitat

North American Range

The Oculea moth can be found across North America, from the United States to Canada. Its range includes various regions, such as:

  • Eastern United States
  • Southern Canada

Habitat Preferences

The Oculea moth prefers a variety of habitats, including:

  • Woodlands
  • Wetlands
  • Grasslands

These environments provide the necessary resources and shelter for the moth to thrive.

Host Plants and Larval Diet

The caterpillars, or larvae, of the Oculea moth feed on a variety of host plants. Some of the most common host plants are:

  • Oak trees

The larvae primarily consume the leaves of these host plants to support their growth and development. The adult moths are less selective in their diet and may feed on a variety of nectar sources.

Preferred Habitat Host Plant
Woodlands Oak trees
Wetlands
Grasslands

To recap, the Oculea moth is a fascinating insect with a broad North American range. It can be found in a variety of habitats, such as woodlands and wetlands, making it a versatile species. With oak trees as common host plants, the larvae are well-equipped to develop into adult moths in these diverse environments.

Life Cycle and Development

From Caterpillar to Moth

The life cycle of the Oculea moth begins with tiny larvae hatching from eggs. These caterpillars molt 5 times, growing to their full size in around 10 days 1.

  • Caterpillar: Hatches from eggs, goes through 5 molts
  • Moth: Occurs after the pupa stage

Pupa Stage

Oculea moth caterpillars eventually turn into pupae, which are usually brown or black in color 2. This stage is crucial as the moth undergoes metamorphosis to turn into an adult.

  • Brown or black coloration
  • Metamorphosis happens during this stage

Camouflage

Oculea moths have developed unique ways of camouflage and mimicry to avoid predators 3. Their caterpillars and pupae can blend into their surroundings easily, while adult moths may resemble other species.

  • Caterpillars: Mimicry and coloration to blend into environment
  • Adult Moths: Resemble other species to avoid predation

Comparison Table

Lifecycle Stage Camouflage Strategy
Caterpillar Mimicry and coloration to blend into surroundings
Pupa Brown or black color to blend in with environment
Adult Moth Resemble other species to avoid predation

Notable Relatives and Similar Species

Polyphemus Moth

The Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) is a notable relative of the Oculea Silkmoth and is part of the Bombycoidea superfamily. This large silk moth is named after the cyclops in Greek mythology due to the large eyespots on its wings. Some features include:

  • Wingspan: 4 to 6 inches
  • Coloration: Brown with prominent eyespots

Western Polyphemus Moth

Another similar moth is the Western Polyphemus Moth, a subspecies of the Polyphemus Moth. It shares many characteristics with its eastern counterpart but is found primarily in the western United States. Differences between the two moths include:

  • Geographic location: Western United States
  • Size: Slightly smaller than the Polyphemus Moth

Amphipoea Oculea and Ear Moth

Amphipoea oculea, also known as the Ear Moth, is part of the Noctuidae family and is a distinct species from the Oculea Silkmoth, but shares a common name. This moth is much smaller and is more common in Europe. Features of the Ear Moth include:

  • Wingspan: 1.2 to 1.6 inches
  • Coloration: Brown with dark markings
  • Distribution: Europe and North America
Feature Polyphemus Moth Western Polyphemus Moth Ear Moth
Wingspan 4 to 6 inches Slightly smaller than Polyphemus Moth 1.2 to 1.6 inches
Location United States Western United States Europe and North America
Family Bombycoidea Bombycoidea Noctuidae
Distinctive Characteristics Large eyespots, colorful Similar to Polyphemus Moth with regional differences Small, brown with dark markings

In conclusion, the Polyphemus Moth, Western Polyphemus Moth, and Ear Moth are notable relatives and similar species to the Oculea Silkmoth. While they share some features, each species has unique characteristics and distribution patterns.

Additional Resources and Identification

Guide and BugGuide

Short paragraph example: BugGuide is a valuable resource for expanded information on arthropods, including moths like the Oculea silkmoth (Hodges#7757.1). Find identifying features, behavior, and habitat information on the platform.

Bullet points example:

  • BugGuide offers detailed information on arthropods.
  • Useful for Oculea silkmoth (Hodges#7757.1) identification.

Photos and Visual References

Short paragraph example: Visual references are important for identifying and comparing moth species. Moth Photographers Group and PNW Moths provide extensive photo galleries to help with moth identification.

Comparison table example:

Resource Species Coverage Photo Types
Moth Photographers Group Multiple moth species, including Oculea silkmoth (Hodges#7757.1) Pinned/museum specimens and living moths
PNW Moths Over 1,200 moth species, including silkmoths Living moth photos

Note: Please make sure to use actual source URLs from the search results for external links. The URLs used here were for format examples only.

Footnotes

  1. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Antheraea_polyphemus.html

  2. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/The_moth_book%3B_a_popular_guide_to_a_knowledge_of_the_moths_of_North_America_%28IA_mothbookpopula00holl%29.pdf

  3. https://breedingbutterflies.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/flutteringsv16n3-8.pdf

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com 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 – Another Antheraea oculea from Arizona

 

2 pictures for you
Found your email addy on the very good site you have on the web. The moth (pictures attached) was on our porch this morning at Payson, Arizona. It was resting on a (lit) lamp shade and has a wing span of 6 inches! I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of a moth it is and wondered if you can use the pic for your site or whatever else. Thanks
Reg

Hi Reg,
A few days ago, we received our first photo of this moth, Antheraea oculea, a relative of the Prometheus Moth found in Arizona. That specimen was sent from the Coconino National Forest of Northern Arizona. 50 miles north of Payson. We are copying Bill Oehlke on this reply as he is keeping comprehensive data on species distribution.

Letter 2 – Antheraea oculea: Recently declared species

 

Moth
I see you have this moth on your site. But this ones markings are a little different. We live in the Blue Ridge area of the Coconino National Forest of Northern Arizona. 50 miles north of Payson, Arizona. 6800 feet altitude.
Lynda Perkins

Hi Linda,
This is exciting news for us. According to a site we found, Antheraea oculea was declared a separate species in the 1990s. Here is what the site maintained by Hunter and Joel has to say: “Until the early nineties, oculea was considered a subspecies of polyphemus. Based on the hybridization work of Tuttle, Tuskes and Collins (see “The Wild Silk Moths of North America”) oculea was raised from subspecific to specific status. This moth occurs in Arizona and western New Mexico. At first glance, oculea looks just like a polyphemus, except darker, and with more ‘makeup’ around the eyespots.” The Butterflies and Moths of North America has a map of species distribution. BugGuide has a single photo of a mounted specimen. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this as he is compiling extensive species distribution information and this sighting may be of interest to him.

Letter 3 – Oculea Moth

 

Large moth
July 19, 2009
I live in the Verde Valley north of Phoenix Arizona. Last night this moth came flying in the patio, hit the ceiling fan, and hit the floor hard. I helped him up off the floor onto the side of the cushion. He stayed there most of the night and in the morning he had made his way up the wall. By late afternoon he suddenly just fluttered out an into the willow tree. He was about 7 to 8 inches across and about 4 and a half inches long. What is it? and are they common in this area
Thank You!
Montezuma Mom
Lake Montezuma, Arizona

Oculea Moth
Oculea Moth

Dear Montezuma Mom,
Exactly one year ago on 19 July 2008,  when we received our first photo of the Oculea Moth, Antheraea oculea, we thought we were looking at a Polyphemus Moth with exaggerated markings.  The eyespots looked heavily made up, as though they had added eye shadow.
The World’s Largest Saturniidae Site indicates:  “The Antheraea oculea moth (wing span 3 15/16 – 5 7/8 inches) closely resemble the widely distributed polyphemus, but oculea occur only in the Southwestern corner of New Mexico through the mountains of southern Arizona north to Flagstaff and the South Rim of the grand canyon. This subspecies/species has also been reported in Durango, Mexico. There is good reason to believe the moth also flies in western Texas (Ft. Davis) as Mike Quinn sent a left forewing found in that area.” Later on on the site:  “The adults are found in oak woodlands and mixed forests.  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. The submarginal black line of polyphemus is always trimmed by a distal pink line, while oculea have a significantly wider wider black submarginal line without the pink trim.” There is a nice Oculea Moth page documenting the life cycle on zianet.com where it is stated:  “Until the early nineties, oculea was considered a subspecies of polyphemus.” The Butterflies and Moths of North America has a map with the range. We are going to copy Bill Oehlke on this response so he can add your sighting to the comprehensive species distribution data he is compiling.
Another Oculea Moth Sighting
August 6, 2009
You made IDing my visitor very easy! Thanks. I just wish my oculea hadn’t been around so long & had been neater. You might find my post of interest:
http://walkingprescott.blogspot.com
GrannyJ

Dear GrannyJ,
We have added your comment and linked to your site with a much battered but still lovely Oculea Moth.

Letter 4 – Oculea Moth

 

Oculea Moth brings friends
July 21, 2009
I recently submitted a photograph of an ‘unknown’ moth. Your response was immediate! I was thrilled with your response, and quickly went through my recent pictures of ALL the unknown bugs I have been phographing in hopes of someday learning what they all were. The Oculea Moth I spotted has not been seen since the he left, however I have seen two different ones in two days. The reason I am certain they are different ones is due to the fact one was much smaller and pretty ragged looking. I did not take a picture because it was pretty sad. The other one I observed is slightly smaller than the first picture I sent. The picture quality is a little better with some more detail, especially of the antennae, they looked like little leafs.
Montezuma Mom
Lake Montezuma, Arizona

Oculea Moth
Oculea Moth

Dear Montezuma Mom,
Thanks so much for this followup report.  We imagine you are the envy of many collectors right now, and we hope your rustic location isn’t suddenly besieged by trophy seekers.  This gorgeous moth has such a limited range and we are concerned that collecting it might seriously negatively impact its numbers.  This individual is a female, and hopefully she will lay eggs.

Letter 5 – Oculea Moth

 

Subject:  ANTHERAEA OCULEA MOTH
Geographic location of the bug:  PAYSON, AZ
Date: 07/24/2021
Time: 04:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I noticed red stripes along wings and other pictures have no red. Is this a male or female
How you want your letter signed:  SUSIE COOKE

Oculea Moth

Dear Susie,
Thanks for submitting your image of a male Oculea Moth or Western Polyphemus Moth.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults are also similar to A. polyphemus, but darker and with more markings around the eye spots. ‘Upperside of wings is tan, sometimes with a yellowish or reddish tint. Forewing margin is the same color as the basal area; submarginal line is black. Rings around the eyespots are orange, blue, and black. Underside has contrasting rust, brown, and white markings.’ – Butterflies and Moths of North America”

Thank you for the information! Love your site

Letter 6 – Oculea Silkmoth

 

Subject:  Antheraea Oculea
Geographic location of the bug:  Edgewood, New Mexico
Date: 06/22/2020
Time: 01:14 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Oculea silk moth. Emerged under the English Oak in our back yard on June 21, 2020.
How you want your letter signed:  J. Bryan

Oculea Silkmoth

Dear J. Bryan,
Thanks so much for submitting your gorgeous image of an Oculea Silkmoth or Western Polyphemus Moth,
Antheraea oculea.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults are also similar to A. polyphemus, but darker and with more markings around the eye spots. ”

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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 Dhir

    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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19 thoughts on “Oculea Moth: All You Need to Know for a Fascinating Discovery”

  1. I just found one of these moths in Southern Arizona (Bisbee) tonight (July 27, 2013). Being that it’s a relatively new species (wow!!), anyone I should notify?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. I just found one of these moths in Southern Arizona (Bisbee) tonight (July 27, 2013). Being that it’s a relatively new species (wow!!), anyone I should notify?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Was SO excited to see a pair of these beautiful moths under our grape vine this afternoon. But we live in upstate NY. Is their range larger than I tought?

    Reply
  4. Thanks you for helping me identify this beautiful moth. Around 10pm 7/23/16 I found an Oculea moth in my garage. Placed it on our back patio where he spent the night. Hope to see more of these wonderful moths. I took pics, but not able to post.

    ShirleyMac
    Prescott Valley, AZ

    Reply
  5. Thanks you for helping me identify this beautiful moth. Around 10pm 7/23/16 I found an Oculea moth in my garage. Placed it on our back patio where he spent the night. Hope to see more of these wonderful moths. I took pics, but not able to post.

    ShirleyMac
    Prescott Valley, AZ

    Reply
  6. I believe the moth my granddaughter found yesterday is an Oculea. It had become entangled in birdnetting. Last night I put it on my window screen and this morning it is gone.
    Annakay Hines
    Jacksonville, FL

    Reply
  7. I believe the moth my granddaughter found yesterday is an Oculea. It had become entangled in birdnetting. Last night I put it on my window screen and this morning it is gone.
    Annakay Hines
    Jacksonville, FL

    Reply

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