Antheraea polyphemus is a moth that can’t get unnoticed! Its beautiful and large wings, equipped with an eyespot each, are incredibly loved among butterfly and moth breeders and will get you amazed when you’ll see them with your eyes!
Antheraea polyphemus, a kind American giant
The Polyphemus moth it’s a widely distributed large silk moth. It can be found it from Canada to Mexico and, with its 10/15 centimetre wingspan, it’s sure that you’ll land an eye on it!
Did you know? Antheraea polyphemus it’s named after Polyphemus, the giant cyclops from Greek mythology who had a single eye in the middle of his forehead.
Antheraea polyphemus, biology and description
The Polyphemus moth it’s a beautiful American Saturniidae that can vary from univoltine to multivoltine depending on the latitude.
This large silk moth flies during the evening, from 22:00 to 01:00. Females start releasing their pheromones at the sunset waiting for the males to arrive. Antheraea polyphemus flies when minimum temperatures exceed 7°C . Various shades of reddish brown, gray, light brown or yellow-brown with transparent eyespots can be seen on Antheraea polyphemus wings.
Antheraea polyphemus can lay from a single egg to a batch of 5 on host plant leaves (Acer, Prunus, Quercus, Ulmus americana, Betula, Salix, Liquidambar) for total of 200/300 eggs per female. The ova are slightly oval and flattened with two broad brown rings; incubation lasts from ten to fourteen days.
Two weeks approx. after egg laying a white and black spiky caterpillar will emerge. After the first instar, it will become green/yellow and will grow up to 6 centimetres. Do not disturb the caterpillars if they’re static and not eating for a couple of days, they’re likely in the process of molting.
After Antheraea polyphemus caterpillars have reached their final size (1/2 months depending on temperature) they’ll start spinning their cocoons around host plant leaves or in a corner of the insect rearing cage. Adult moths emerge 4/6 weeks after pupation unless diapause has been triggered by environmental factors. Despite the mechanisms underlying diapause in Lepidoptera are not fully described, frequencies of sunlight, day/night cycle and temperature are known to play a role in the onset of diapause.
After emerging from the cocoon, Antheraea polyphemus males will start sensing females feromones in order to pair. When adult pairing takes place it usually lasts for 24 hours, do not disturb the moths during this period of time!
How to rear Antheraea polyphemus
Antheraea polyphemus it’s not a complicate moth to rear but make sure you will have access to a lot of food! 1st instar carterpillars can be reared in small plastic/fabric boxes or cages with trimmed leaves or small branches where they can easily crawl and eat. Clean the container every day.
After a couple of weeks Polyphemus moth caterpillars will be large enough to be placed in a broader enclosure. If you have the chance to rear them outside on a live host plant, they will perfom very well in a temperate climate.
At this point all you have to worry about is to provide large amounts of food to the caterpillars and make sure the enclosure/rearing sleeves you are using are well ventilated and clean. We recommend to sterilize all the equipment with a bleach solution after each cycle of rearing.
Buy Antheraea polyphemus cocoons
Large size Antheraea polyphemus cocoons are now available in our shop. They will emerge in spring 2023 and need to be kept cold during winter.