Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFSaturniidae Members: 308 NC Records

Antheraea polyphemus (Cramer, 1776) - Polyphemus Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Bombycoidea Family: SaturniidaeSubfamily: SaturniinaeTribe: AttaciniP3 Number: 890070.00 MONA Number: 7757.00
Comments: The only member of its genus in the eastern United States (Antheraea oculea occurs in Arizona and New Mexico -- Tuskes et al., 1996)
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1972), Tuskes et al. (1996)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1923), Ferguson (1972), Covell (1984), Tuskes et al. (1996), Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Adults are unmistakable. With a wingspan of 4-6 inches, this is one of our largest native moths. Its yellowish-brown or tan color and large ellipical eyes-spots distinguish it from the similar-sized Cecropia Moth, which has red bands on its wings and body and has crescent-shaped discal spots.
Wingspan: 125 mm (Forbes, 1923)
Adult ID Requirements: Unmistakable and widely known.
Immatures and Development: The large green larvae are also quite distinctive. Although similar to those of the Luna Moth (Actias luna), they lack the lateral yellow stripe possessed by that species and have vertical yellow stripes located in the middle of the abdominal segments rather than in between (Ferguson, 1972, gives additional details). Cocoons are often encountered attached to trees or shrubs or fallen on the ground. Their thick ovoid shape is quite distinctive and can serve as the basis for site records for this species.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Occurs state-wide (Brimley, 1938)
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Appears to be single-brooded in the mountains but shows a distinctly bimodal flight pattern in the Coastal Plain and possibly the Piedmont
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Occurs in virtually all types of forests in the state, from maritime forests on the barrier islands (e.g., Fort Macon) to the high elevation forests of the mountains (e.g., Great Smoky Mountains National Park). It is also frequently encountered in wooded residential areas.
Larval Host Plants: Feeds on many species of hardwood trees and shrubs, but not on pines as has been previously reported (D. Schweitzer, pers. comm. to S. Hall). Brimley (1938) reported that it feeds primarily on elm and maple in North Carolina. Wagner (2005) stated that favored host plants include members of the birch, rose, and willow families (Wagner, 2005); Tuskes et al. (1996) also list oak as a favorite. Other commonly used host plants include ash, dogwood, hazel, and hickory (see Ferguson, 1972, for a more extensive list).
Observation Methods: Comes well to 15 watt UV lights and also to incandescent light to some extent. Adults do not feed and consequently are not attracted by bait. Larvae can be detected in low trees and shrubs through their droppings. Cocoons can often be found attached to low trees and shrubs. Larvae are easy to rear in captivity (see Tuskes et al., 1996).
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Hardwood Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: Populations are locally vulnerable to the effects of weather, outbreaks of disease, parasites, and predators, and to the effects of pesticides. However, given the commonness of their host plants, wide habitat range -- including suburban areas -- and statewide distribution, this species can easily recover from those losses and appears to be secure in the state for the foreseeable future. In the Northeast, this is one of the few species of Saturniid that appears to be increasing in number (Wagner, 2012).

 Photo Gallery for Antheraea polyphemus - Polyphemus Moth

109 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: J. Myrick on 2021-08-01
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: J. Myrick on 2021-08-01
Stokes Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-07-21
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-07-17
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-07-06
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-12
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: tom ward on 2021-06-12
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2021-05-23
Graham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2021-05-21
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka, Bo Sullivan and Steve Hall on 2021-05-10
Moore Co.
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Recorded by: Holiday Anderson-Earls on 2021-05-03
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-29
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Lucas Fussell on 2021-04-12
Gates Co.
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Recorded by: Lucas Fussell on 2021-04-12
Gates Co.
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Recorded by: Lucas Fussell on 2021-04-12
Gates Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-12
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-04-09
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-10-15
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2020-08-27
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Olson on 2020-08-25
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Olson on 2020-08-25
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Jeff Olson on 2020-08-25
Alamance Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin on 2020-08-04
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2020-08-04
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-07-23
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-07-23
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Heather Burditt on 2020-07-23
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn on 2020-07-15
Polk Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2020-06-28
Orange Co.
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