The Giant Polyphemus Moth

The Giant Polyphemus Moth
Polyphemus Moth (large)

There are moths… and then there’s the Polyphemus Moth! This massive insect, a member of “Giant Silk Moth” family, regularly reaches wingspans of 6 inches. The specimen shown here was discovered in Central Vermont, but the range of the Polyphemus Moth spans a good deal of North America, from Lower Canada to Northern Mexico.

Large spots on the wings of the Polyphemus Moth look rather similar to eyes and it uses this intriguing adaptation to confuse potential predators. In fact, the term ‘Polyphemus’ is derived from the name of a cyclops in Greek legend. Apparently, it was thought that the spots on the moth’s wings resembled the eye of a cyclops… a peculiar comparison, since a cyclops had only one eye, while the wings of the Polyphemus Moth have ‘two’.

About this Photograph
Photograph of Polyphemus Moth © 2011 J.G. Coleman Photography. View more photography by Trails of Freedom Chief Researcher, Justin Coleman, at J. G. Coleman Photography.