A BIG Moth
I recently found a large moth hanging on our garage door. My wife trapped him for closer examination. This guy has a wing span of 4-5" and a body as large and meaty as the end segment of my thumb. He is brown with a black spot on each wing . each black spot is 1/2" in diameter and has a translucent center. He also has a translucent spot on each wing up toward his head about 1/4" in diameter. His wings are paper like in appearance and look a little fuzzy. He also has an outline of darker brown on the top/front of the wings and a lighter brown outline on the top/rear of the wings with a black and a white line separating colors. The under side of the wings is all light brown with very little color variation, except for the translucent spots. What is it?
Thanks, Don

pic of the BIG Moth
Hopefully this pic will help, I could only get the underside on my scanner, I don’t want to kill him and the photo didn’t turn out very good.

Hi Don,
You have a female Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus, which was named for the one-eyed cyclops of Greek mythology because of the “eyespots” on the hind wings. It is a member of the giant silkworm family, Saturniidae. Adults do not eat, but live solelyh to mate and reproduce, living just a few days. By the looks of things, your female should be laying eggs soon, and if she is fertile, they will hatch into hungry caterpillars that eat oak, hickory, elm, maple, birch and other trees and shrubs. They are green and will grow to about 3 inches before spinning a plump cocoon either on the ground or attached to a twig. They are common in the South where there are two broods a year.

Thanks Bugman,
We did a little research and you confirmed our suspicions. We live in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hardly the South. Thanks so much for your quick response, have a great day!
Don & Cindy Hess
P.S. She is free now, but last we checked just hanging around

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I have been lucky enough to have seen a Luna Moth. It is so beautiful! It was found where I work and was alive for about 2 days (since being found). It has now died and I am wondering if you would know of a way I can keep it without it decaying, some way to preserve it. If you could help it would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Ripleys,
Lucky you. Great sighting. Where are you located? Your moth will dry naturally. The biggest danger is protecting it from dermestid which will devour it. These tiny beetles can be kept out with moth crystals.

Dear Bugman:
My name is Eric Eaton, and I am the principle author of the forthcoming "Kaufman Focus Guide to Insects of North America." I like your site very much, as there is a great need for your services. However, it has not remained consistently online enough, and that alone detracts from your credibility.
Secondly, I have noticed some erroneous identifications given for some of the ID requests. This is going to happen from time to time, but I’d be happy to make corrections if you let me know how to go about it.
I’d also like to offer a couple of other resources to share the burden. I am one of several entomologists at AllExperts.com who can do identifications for the inqurining public. Another resource I highly recommend is
It, too, is growing rapidly, but may be slightly better organized than your site. You might check it out, and/or refer visitors there to get them started.
Lastly, I recommend subscribing to the "BugNet" listserv:
bugnet@listproc.wsu.edu, subscribe with an e-mail to
listproc@listproc.wsu.edu, leaving subject liine blank, and only this text: "subscribe bugnet" in the body of the message.
Lots of good people there who can help you. There is also Gordon’s Entomology Home Page, or something to that effect, which offers visitors a chance to pose ID questions (which often end up on BugNet anyway:-). Please let me know how else I can help you. In return, I’d love it if you could post an announcement that I am seeking professional quality images of live insects for the field guide. Keep up the good work!
Eric Eaton

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Looked like a leaf
Found this bug sitting on the side of our building. At first, I just thought it was a leaf. Then I realized it wasn’t . Very nice disguise. Hope the pictures are clear enough to identify it.
Ellen Bouse

Hi Ellen,
The Satellite Sphinx, Pholus satellitia, has a form Pholus pandorus, which is your moth. According to Holland: “This insect which is widely distributed throughout the eastern United States, and ranges northward into southern Canada, is well-known to all growers of vines.” The caterpillar, a hornworm, can do damage to the vineyard.

Cicada or Katydid?
This bug was found on our family’s July 4th camping trip at Belton Lake southwest of Waco, Texas. Is it a Secada or Katydid and are they the same thing?

Dear Melinda,
Cicadas and Katydids are different insects. Katydids look llike green grasshoppers, and Cicadas look like giant flies. Your Cicada is a pretty green color. I don’t know the exact species name. Eric Eaton wrote us that
Tibicen superbus is the only species with an all-green front half.

black bristly caterpillar
Photo attached. This was found in Austin, Texas, walking near the handle of our patio door. He is predominantly black, bristly, with a brownish red head and three orange/red bands around the back end. Since he is lifting his front end, there may be more red bands, hard to tell. In terms of scale, this fellow is +/- 1.5 inches long. The hole in the picture is ~1/8th inch in diameter. THe nearby environment is a large flower garden filled with butterfly and hummingbird attracting plants (designed that way). Common medium-large butterflies in the garden recently include:
* various swallowtails (giant, pipevine, tiger)
* gulf fritillary
* hackberry spp.
* red admirals (not all that often)
* hummingbird clearwing moth
I’m familiar with these caterpillars, and this ain’t one of ’em. We also have commas/question marks. Is this one of them? We have many smaller butterflies (e.g. texas crescent, common hairstreak, fiery skipper) but I figure this guy isn’t a candidate for them, since he’s good sized. Hard to find a good site of caterpillar pictures.

Hi Jim,
The caterpillar of Ecpantheria deflorata, the Eyed Tiger Moth, “is a deep black, clothed with black hairs, and at the junction of the somites, or segments of the body, it is banded with rings of crimson” according to Holland. Sounds like your caterpillar. The moth is found in your area and the caterpillar, one of the wooley bears, feeds on plantain, pr Plantago. We have a photo of the adult moth on our homepage right now. Here is a nice caterpillar identification site.