We generally have a very slow start to mothing season - and this year we haven't even technically blacklighted at all - but this morning shocked my socks off!
In January we'd helped a neighbor on the north side of town with some yard work, clearing dead vegetation and shuffling it over to the burn pile. A lump of cocoon had caught my eye (it was in a tangle of chile pequin and unidentifiable vegetation) and I'd tucked it aside for further study. It may or may not have been toted around in the bed of the truck for about a week before I remembered it!
With no suitable place to put it around the house, I propped it in the branches of our pine tree, out of puppy-reach in the yard.
This is what greeted me this morning: Antheraea oculea
, the Oculea Silkmoth
, apparently also called Western Polyphemus? Check out its range
. They feed on oaks and walnuts, neither of which are terribly abundant in these parts.
|The circle of life, or something.|
|To add some scale...|
|My what fuzzy antennae and large eye spots you have! Chestnut tones for the male...|
|The male, right, is showing a bit of wear.|
|Fresh wings, small antennae, this is the female.|
|Pardon the lack of privacy, but WOW those are nice antennae!|
With the variability among individuals, I was surprised to see just how much markings differ (see Bugguide link way at the top) and even with these two, the richness of color from above was strikingly different between them... at least, for looking like clones from below. Amazing how one cocoon can completely derail a morning!
If I were a Myiarchus I would totally want to eat them. Even as a human...except that would ruin the beauty