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Polyphemus Silkworm Moth Caterpillar
Antheraea polyphemus

I nearly tripped over this little guy – but not because I didn’t see it! More like because I couldn’t NOT see it! I had absolutely no idea what kind of caterpillar it was, and that we had caterpillars here that were so big and bright. Well, it turns out it’s one of many different native silkworm moths in Virginia.

Once it is in the moth form, it only lives less than a week (as an adult, it does not eat). The caterpillar on the other hand, can eat 86,000 times it’s weight from emergence in a little less than two months.

Size: Wingspan 6"
Family:  Saturniidae
Habitat: Prefers elm, birch and willow trees, but has been found on other hardwoods.
Identification: A very large brown and tan moth with large purple/dark blue eye spots on its two hind wings. 
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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