Moving to Freedom, .Org

Big Brown Moth

Green Caterpillar: Antheraea Polyphemus

This is a follow-up to the Big Green Caterpillar post from last August. My wife had determined that this caterpillar was probably Antheraea Polyphemus.

We found three cocoons from these guys around our yard last fall. One was attached to a board leaning against the house and two were wrapped up in leaves under trees. This spring, it didn’t look like one of the cocoons on the ground had made it. We put the other inside one of our daughter’s “bug catchers” so we could keep an eye on it, and today it emerged!

Brown Moth 1: Antheraea Polyphemus

It’s miraculous, this metamorphosis. He wasn’t ready to fly at first, so we got a good look at him. Such a crazy life-cycle: starting as a crawling thing and then spending the winter in a cocoon to emerge as a flying creature in the spring. They don’t eat in their moth form and live less than a week. The male will fly for miles to find females to mate with.

You can see more detail in the larger images linked from here. The large, bushy antennae say that this one is a male. It may be hard to tell from the photos, but the spots are translucent.

Brown Moth 2: Antheraea Polyphemus

It was pretty cool to see both sides of the transformation and fun and exciting to share this with our daughter. Before long he took off and fluttered away. Makes me think about all of the ways that life plays out around us. If not for the happenstance of seeing that big green caterpillar last fall, we would have been oblivious to this drama playing out.

Brown Moth 3: Antheraea Polyphemus

It amazes me that this works at all. It seems so complicated. And it’s wonderful.