Recent posts have featured two of our beautiful giant silkmoths, the Luna and the Promethea. Last year at Moth Night we also found the incredible yellow Io moth at Dallenbach's Natural Area. This post is about another of our giant silk moths, the Polyphemus moth. Our silk moths are distantly related to the moth that is used in silk production. The adults also have greatly reduced mouthparts and do not feed. They simply find a mate and die.
For some reason, these moths all have common names (and their scientific species names) that are from Greek and Roman mythology. For the Polyphemus moth, the name is perfect. This moth has a huge single fake eyespot on each wing. Polyphemus was the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Homer's Odyssey, a cyclops. Cyclopes have a single eye in the center of their forehead, hence the common name of the beautiful Polyphemus moth that has one large fake eye on each wing. Just like the Promethea moth featured in a previous post this moth was reared from a cocoon collected in East Brunswick this winter and just emerged yesterday. These moths are fairly common in the less developed areas of our town and are always incredible to find. The names of our other silk moths and their mythological roots are:
Luna (Actias luna) - In Roman mythology the moon goddess was called Luna, in Greek mythology the counterpart was Selene (meaning "moon") and the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia.
Promethea (Callosamia promethea) - (Prometheus) in Greek mythology is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.
Io (Automeris io) - in Greek mythology a priestess changed by Zeus into a young cow.
Cecropia (Hyalophora cecropia) - (Cecrops) in Greek mythology was considered to be the founder of Greek civilization and the city of Athens. Cecrops was half-man, half-snake. He had no parents and was believed to have been born out of the earth.