Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Giant four-eyes

One byproduct of my new portable air conditioner now at home in the kitchen is that it was necessary to remove the window screen so the exhaust tube could do its job (see picture here). Not surprisingly, I've had some interesting visitors. By far the most glamorous was this giant antheraea oculea moth I discovered sitting on a hanging basket of geegaws last night. And I do mean very large: the wingspan is 5-6".

A glance at his/her battered wings says that the critter has been around for a while this summer; it proceeded to batter them further flying at the fluorescent ceiling fixtures periodically and then resting up. Thanks to The Google, I found pictures and a discussion at What's That Bug. Interesting -- this is very much a local southwestern special. The Bugman points out, The World’s Largest Saturniidae Site indicates: The Antheraea oculea moth (wing span 3 15/16 – 5 7/8 inches) closely resemble the widely distributed polyphemus, but oculea occur only in the Southwestern corner of New Mexico through the mountains of southern Arizona north to Flagstaff and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Aren't those eye spots super? The Bugman noted Exactly one year ago on 19 July 2008, when we received our first photo of the Oculea Moth, Antheraea oculea, we thought we were looking at a Polyphemus Moth with exaggerated markings. The eyespots looked heavily made up, as though they had added eye shadow. The three reports about this moth that were posted on What's That Bug were from the Verde Valley and the Payson area; I usually see one or two of these moths every few summers, but never had a chance to photograph one so intimately.

I was fortunate to get one picture of an antenna showing its feathery form.

Also quite interesting -- the silky "hairs" that not only covered the body of the moth (right) but spilled over onto the wing. The critter was resting when I turned out the lights to go to bed; this morning, he/she had disappeared. Now, if I am really, really, really lucky one of those pretty scarab beetles will land in front of my camera lens and it will deploy its delicate feathery antenae. Hah -- not very likely!

8 comments:

OmegaMom said...

Ooooh! Isn't he handsome! I like the pics very much!

Yavapai Central said...

Great pix, too. Funny how making one change creates new possibilities!

Jarart said...

That is a beautiful creature! I would have been so excited to have something like that pose for my camera. Beautiful shots, the close ups are amazing. I didn't know they had so much fur.

Steve said...

Nice shots. Hope you are staying cool.

RV-boondocker-explorer said...

Pictures were so interesting that I thought you were making them up.

Granny J said...

dotter -- I was really fortunate that he showed up! A real beauty...

yc -- curious that it took so long for the oculea to be declared a separate species.

jarart -- I was also quite surprised about the fur...

steve -- my kitchen has morphed from the hottest to the coolest place in the house.

boonie -- I was lucky -- the critter wore itself out on the lights, giving me a really great opportunity to take the close-up photos. BTW, the following night, the scarab beetle did show up, but didn't stay still long enough for a photo.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I found one of these bird-sized mothes in Flagstaff outside of my work and snapped a few photos. Just today found a Giant Hercules Beetle (also at work), but was unable to take any pics before my boss made me "dispose" of it... The buisness next door allegedly put it in a cup and kept it. I will take my camera and see if they still have it tomorrow!

Granny J said...

anon in flag -- I've had these critters on my 2nd floor screens several times, but with a new moveable air conditioner I had to leave the screen off & have had some great visitors as a result. Including this moth.

 
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