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Giant Silk Moths at Fermilab
Tom Peterson

Three species of Giant Silk Moths (the moth family Saturniidae) are common at Fermilab and are pictured below:  Polyphemus, Luna, and Cecropia.  All three of these species overwinter in the cocoon and do not feed as adults, living only for a week or so as adults in spring or early summer.  
Polyphemus Moth Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
June 18, 2003 

This Polyphemus moth was in the IB1 parking lot one morning, probably after having been attracted to lights on the building.  I took it to my office where I took this photo.  The wing span was about six inches.  The caterpillars feed on the sandbar willows in the wet areas here at Fermilab, and on other trees and shrubs.   

Luna Moth Luna Moth (Actias luna
May 12, 2004 

These beautiful members of the Giant Silk Moth family feed as caterpillars on walnut and other trees and overwinter in a cocoon on the ground.  Like other giant silk moths, they do not feed as adults and live only about a week or so.  They rest during the day, usually well-hidden in the green vegetation, fly at night, and are quite attracted to lights.  

Cecropia Moth Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia
(photo courtesy of John Konc) 

Like the Polyphemus, the large, green caterpillars feed on sandbar willows and other trees and shrubs at Fermilab.  The adults are often found at windows or doorways of service buildings in the mornings in May or June after having been attracted to lights at night.  

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