Polyphemus moth Caterpillar

suzycentriOctober 11, 2010

If you read my previous post, you know I'm a newbie.

If you read my follow up on that post, you might have read that I found two big fat green caterpillars last weekend. After doing a little more web surfing, I have decided that they are Polyphemus moth caterpillars.

Of course, I would love to see a big old moth come out of there. But I certainly don't want to take it out of it's habitat, accidentally killing it because I don't know what I'm doing.

So moth experts, what do you think? Are they a simple moth or a difficult one?

I'm reading that they come out of their cocoon in the early afternoon. But I'm also reading that it happens in early May. This is certainly not May, so that would make it an overwintering one. I've read that it might fall off the tree when the leaves fall off--which would be bad since my husband picks up leaves. I do have a place I could safely keep it (either outside or inside, and I don't know which is best).

Looks like they eat a pretty wide variety of trees, which I have.

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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

If you find a poly wandering around on the ground (or your grill), it is done eating and looking to make a cocoon.

Polys are multi-brooded. Depending where you are, the moth may eclose this year or next year.

If you have a poly cocoon, try to keep it in a place where the temperature is close to the outside temperature. They have been known to eclose in the dead of winter when kept warm.

When the moth emerges, let it go, preferably after dark so it doesn't get chased down by a local bird.

KC

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 2:08AM
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suzycentri

Great, thank you! I went back to the tree last night and was able to find the second one, cocoon-ed up! I'm sure there is a word for that. :)

I'm in Kansas City, Missouri.

I have a 2nd story balcony where I can put both cocoons. They will be safe from most everything up there, and exposed to the temperature but not necessarily the wind/snow.

I've got a "butterfly pavilion" on order. That's kind of exciting.

Thanks for sharing your practical knowledge.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 10:59AM
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weed30

Lucky you! I found a 'big fat green caterpillar' some years back, and also discovered it was a Polyphemus. I put it in a container with some dried Oak leaves, and it made a cocoon. It was late in the season here. (St. Louis...Howdy Neighbor!), and I kept the container outside in my screened in porch. It ended up eclosing the following Spring, and WOW was it amazing! I couldn't believe how big it was and also how pretty. Linked below is one of my photo albums, and if you scroll down a bit, there are some pics of my Poly.

Here is a link that might be useful: clicky

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 10:31PM
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suzycentri

Wow, Weed30, those are great pictures! Thank you for sharing your experience! That is a huge moth!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 11:09AM
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suzycentri

Follow up to last year's caterpillars...

I ended up with 2 cocoons, which overwintered in a butterfly pavillion on my balcony. Both cocoons were in a birch tree, btw. I clipped the branches they were on and laid them in the pavillion, securing the pavillion so it didn't blow off the balcony.

Yesterday one of them eclosed! I didn't even know it until I saw a huge moth hanging on the side of the house and realized the time was here! I ran upstairs and sure enough, there was a partially unfolded polyphemus hanging from the top of the mesh. I left it in the pavillion overnight because it wasn't fully open. This morning I found one outside the pavillion, waiting for the pretty girl to come out and "play". So I used a branch to fish her out of the enclosure and she and her new friend are basking in the sun on the deck.

The other hasn't eclosed, but I'll be watching closely.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:41AM
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Chowlini

I'm so happy for you that they emerged, that's remarkable to watch. :)

In June I found a Polyphemus moth outside in the middle of the day, seeming a little off. I brought her home, and when I checked on her later that night, she'd laid eggs all over the cage I had prepared for her. After laying the eggs she seemed capable of flying again, so I released her. I found her dead where I released her unforunately the next day, though. :(

However, I am raising the eggs. They hatched approximately two weeks later, and I have 17 beautiful caterpillars in my care. Since then they have grown immensely, they're about 3 inches now. Today, I also discovered that one caterpillar is albino. I've never heard of an albino Polyphemus, and I am very ecstatic about the little guy. I am keeping him separate from the others and anticipate seeing his moth form. :)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:01PM
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