Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Babies of a different sort

We have been lucky enough to find a Polyphemus Moth in our garden on more than one occasion. The last time it was in the spring of 2007. This big, 5-6" or 10-15cm, Moth is so pretty. It seems like it could be a pet. Even the underside of the moth is beautiful.
You can see that its body looks like it is furry. I always want to pet one when I see it.One of the interesting things about this moth is that it makes this interesting cocoon. One winter I found an empty cocoon attached to a Service Berry tree. You can clearly see the hole where the moth emerged.

I brought it in and have kept it for a couple of years. They are quite strong. You can see the imprint of a leaf on the side of the cocoon. Day before yesterday I was walking around the garden and look what I found. Another Polyphemus cocoon.
It is was attached to a maple leaf. It had dropped to the ground. I have read that they do this to overwinter in leaf duff. We always pile our leaves around the base of the maple. This little guy will have a nice winter bed. I hope no racoon, skunk or possum finds it and eats it. We will hope for the best.

19 comments:

Rose said...

What an interesting-looking moth. I was looking at, trying to figure out why it was called Polyphemus, because it seems to have two "eyes." For those who don't remember, Polyphemus was the Cyclops that Ulysses tangled with in the Odyssey--sorry the English teacher in me coming out again:)
Anyway, then I saw the size--no wonder! It's huge!

Joyce said...

When I first heard that many coccoons overwinter on dead leaves, I almost wanted to stop raking and disposing of my fall leaves. We have so many trees, that really isn't an option, but like you I leave some of them on my garden, both as mulch, and in hopes I can spare a few moths and butterflies. I'm glad you found this one!

Frances, said...

Hi Lisa, like Joyce I am now concerned about my leaf chopping activities in the fall. There are some places where they are undisturbed, I will try and imagine that is where they can safely winter over. Sigh. Your moths are wonderful and good deal on the great picture. In our other house in TN we had a motion light over the garage that would attract so many moths. In the morning they would still be attached, a regular display of great variety and beauty.

Q said...

Dear Lisa,
These are beautiful moths!
Thank you Rose. I had forgotten about Polyphemus the Cyclops!
So very exciting that you have a cocoon! I have maple trees and lots of leaf mold maybe one of these days I will have Polyphemus Moths too. I have only seen them one time in my gardens back in the 1980's. Is there any way you can protect cocoon?
Fantastic moths! WOW!
Sherry

arythrina said...

What cool pictures! Thank you for posting them and for the life cycle explanation - I'm inspired to "leave" more untouched come fall... :)

Cheryl said...

Hi Lisa....lucky lucky you...beautiful moth and all the science that goes with it....amazing...

Do you think you should change your blog to my wildlife sanctuary.......

Phillip said...

That is really beautiful. I don't see a lot of moths in my garden, I don't know why.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Now THAT is way cool! I don't blame you for wanting to pet it--I wanted to do the same, and was about to touch the computer screen before I realized what I was doing. lol.

verobirdie said...

Beautiful! I did not know a moth could be that large, nor did I know about the overwintering. I'll be more careful now.

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Now thats an amazing looking moth, great photos and post.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Lisa, this was so interesting. I didn't know much about these moths. Thank you. I saw a dead one here on the driveway today.~~Dee

Marvin said...

Great post, Lisa. I love the little "portholes" in the wings of Polyphemus moths. I've never seen one of their cocoons. Thanks for sharing the photos.

Forever Young said...

how totally incredible this moth is. dynamic actually.

marianne said...

Beautiful pictures! I love moths!
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Nice to look around here!
greetings!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

That is a beautiful moth and a very interesting post and comments!

gintoino said...

Beautiful! How lucky are you to have such a wonderfull animal in your garden?

cyndy said...

I'm always so happy when I find a Polyphemus moth...sometimes we even find the big green Luna. They are beautiful creatures.

Very nice specimen of the cocoon!

Pam/Digging said...

Very cool moth. It looks nearly as big as a luna.

Barbara said...

Lucky you, to take such great pictures! This moth was unknown to me up to now.