Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Polyphemus moth
Antheraea polyphemus (Cramer, 1776)


Family: Saturniidae
Subfamily: Saturniinae
Identification: Upperside is reddish to yellowish brown; forewing margin is usually lighter than the basal area; forewing submarginal line is pink, or black and pink. Clear oval eyespots are ringed with yellow, blue, and black; hindwing eyespot is separated from the basal area of the wing by a thin pink line. Underside has rust, brown, and pink markings.
Wing Span: 3 15/16 - 5 7/8 inches (10 - 15 cm).
Life History: Adults emerge from their cocoons in the late afternoon, and mating occurs the same day from late evening to early morning. Females lay eggs that evening, singly or in groups of 2 or 3 on leaves of the host plant. Newly-hatched caterpillars eat their eggshells, and caterpillars of all ages are solitary. Older caterpillars eat an entire leaf and then cut the leaf petiole at the base so it falls to the ground, perhaps a defensive measure to eliminate signs of feeding.
Flight: One brood in the north from May-July, two broods in the Ohio Valley and southward from April-May and from July-August, two broods in the California Sierra Nevada, several broods throughout most of the year in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.
Caterpillar Hosts: A wide variety of trees and shrubs including oak (Quercus), willow (Salix), maple (Acer), and birch (Betula).
Adult Food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Deciduous hardwood forests, urban areas, orchards, and wetlands.
Range: Locally common in its broad range; in Canada in province except Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; in the United States, every state except Arizona and Nevada; and Mexico.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: Caterpillars can be occasional pests in California plum orchards.
Comments: NULL