Polyphemus Moth: Tragedy Averted

A Polyphemus Story
Hey WTB,
love your website, I usually come on a few times a week to see the new additions to the site. Well, I finally have something to send in myself! It started in late August, of 2007, when my dad found this huge green caterpillar from the yard. It was nearly as long as someone’s hand, and fat like a sausage. We’d never seen caterpillar’s around here except for cabbage butterflies, so my sister and I were excited to see one like this. My dad put it in a bug jar, as I went online to your site to try and figure out what exactly we had. We thought it could possibly be a Luna moth, or something similar to the species, based on the caterpillar pictures on the site. Just moments after finding that out, the caterpillar began to spin a cocoon! By the next day, it was sealed up tight in the rock-hard cocoon, and we transferred it to another container, and put woodchips and grass clippings on the bottom so it would be like the environment the cocoon would normally be in outside. We kept it in the garage though, so it wouldn’t hatch too soon being in a warm house. For the first few weeks, we could tap on the side of the container, and it would scratch -rather loudly- back at us. My mom would leave the container outside when the weather was nice, and brought it back into the garage when the snow started falling. Living in Michigan, that could be anytime between Fall and Spring. It was halfway through winter, and my mom had pretty much given up hope that it was still living. Come Spring, about two months ago in March, she and my sister decided that the moth had died, and they were going to ‘cut the cocoon open and see what was inside’. I wasn’t home at the time, or I would have stopped them, because I remembered reading that the moths often stayed in their cocoons over winter.
My sister even videotaped the whole process of trying to cut a slit in the cocoon with a pair of sharp scissors, but my mom was careful not to damage whatever was inside. It turned out to be much stronger than they thought. But they finally did get it open, and shrieked in surprise (I have the evidence on video), when they saw a wiggling brown thing inside of it. My mom taped it back together, hoping that would keep it okay. Of course, when I found out I freaked out, thinking they had just murdered our yet-unhatched friend.
So now, it’s May 19th, and I walked into the garage, home from school. I glanced down at the container as I usually did, even though I was suspecting the moth might not come out now, but I was surprised. Something was hanging from the ceiling in the container, and I ran inside and got my mom and sister. It turns out we didn’t have a Luna moth, but it was just as beautiful. A male Polyphemus moth, I think. We were so excited it had actually hatched, I snapped some photos and immediately started writing to you! Well, I hope you enjoy the pictures and our moth story. Love your website!
Rachel G.
(I attached two pictures, one of the moth and one of it and it’s cocoon)

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for sending us your chilling account of a near Polyphemus Moth tragedy.

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