Nature: Butterflies and Moths

The Polyphemus Moth / Telea Polyphemus 巨型孔雀飞蛾(Family Saturniidae, the American Silk Moths)

Out of warm and velvet darkness this great brown gem of the woods may flutter to your window. It comes from a mysterious world to startle civilized man with a realization of hidden beauty in the night. The tawny wings, so like the soft fur of a great cat, the bluish-gray streaks on the wings, and the large round blue-rimmed eyes of the hind wings mark this species from other Saturniids. The subspecies oculea Neum, is a large form with a diffuse black ring around the ocelli (eye-spots) in the fore-wings. The form olivaceae Ckl. has an olive-brown ground color.

The wonderful power of the male Polyphemus Moths to find their way through vast spaces of the night to mate with the females amazes scientists. Males freed many miles from their anticipated brides and marked with paint have flown unerringly over hills and valleys to the females. The enormous feathery antennae of the male are apparently especially adapted to smelling the distant female. Like most Saturniids, the Polyphemus Moths have no mouth parts with which to feed, but spend all their brief existence carrying out the mating instinct.

The eggs are laid on a wide variety of deciduous trees including oaks, maples, elms, buckeyes and walnuts. The fat caterpillars, bright green and silvery as tinseled Christmas trees, spin a very dense cocoon interwoven with leaves and permeated with a white chalk-like substance.

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