Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Polyphemus Moth Update 2013

Remember that large bright green caterpillar I featured in my Polyphemus Caterpillar & Cocoon post in September 2012?

Recall, I took the caterpillar home in a container lined with paper towels.  It was one of those rare days that I didn't bring my camera to work....anyway, I brought the caterpillar home to take some shots, and while I was downloading the photos, the caterpillar decided to make its cocoon!  And, not having any leaves, it used the paper towels to anchor its cocoon.
Usually, a polyphemus caterpillar would wrap a leaf around itself before making the cocoon--here's a photo of a different caterpillar so you can so what the process would look like normally:
So....after a long winter sitting protected in my garage, and several weeks of the cocoon resting in a clear container on my front porch (to acclimate it to outdoor weather conditions and allow proper humidity), the moth emerged on Wednesday, May 22, 2013....and she's a girl!
I can tell she's a girl because she has thinner, less bushy antennae than a male.  This is what her antennae look like:
Compared to a male's antennae (I posted this two weeks ago--the newly emerged male was perched on a window outside the education center.)
So, after hanging around all day and letting her wings pump up and dry out, off she flew into the night, hopefully to mate and produce more of these breathtakingly beautiful moths.  I leave you with a close up of her eyespots which are thought to startle away any would-be predators.  What incredible color and detail!
More off the beaten path in two weeks!

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