So you can imagine my delight when, in the spring of 2005, I found a Polyphemus cocoon under a birch tree in our yard. I put the cocoon in a bed of dead leaves (simulating its natural environment) in an empty fish tank with a screen top, and awaited the emergence of the moth.
|Female Polyphemus Moth|
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
What I did not know is that a female Polyphemus does not fly until after she mates. So she just sat there in the open cage, giving off her pheromone mating call -- and wow, did it work! Around midnight I went upstairs to see if she was gone, and the room was full of polyphemus moths! The female had flown, all right, leaving behind six suitors who were still sitting in her cage and on the walls, getting high, I suppose, on the lingering smell of female moth.
That was more of these big moths than I had seen in many years. I was surprised but also pleased, because it indicated the local population was bigger than I had thought. I later read that a male can detect a female from a mile away -- or even more. Whether or not there were other females in the same radius sending out their mating scent to other males, I do not know. But six males on my land in one night was certainly beautiful! I carefully picked up each moth and put them out the window, watching them fly off into the night. Two years later, in May 2007, I found an empty Polyphemus cocoon under the same tree. I like to think it was descended from the Night of the Polyphemus Moths.
In more recent years, I have found empty cocoons of Cecropias and an occasional Polyphemus or Luna, but have not seen many of the adult moths. Still, it's nice to know they are still out there.