"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


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