Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Imperial Moth

On Thursday evening I was at Davidson Mill Pond Park for a short nature walk and meeting. Before and after the meeting I photographed at least eight different species of moth and saw a few more moths that I was not able to photograph (mainly because they were too fast or small for the equipment I had with me). I will probably post a few more of them once I get them identified, but there is one in particular that deserves its own post.

During the last of the presentations, a large moth started flying against one of the earth center's windows. Once the meeting was done, I went outside and found this Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) on the ground underneath the window. I picked it up and showed it to some of the other attendees, and then I put it back outside in a place where I could photograph it more easily and where it would only have to fly a short distance to find cover.

Imperial Moths belong to the family Saturniidae, a group of large and colorful moths that are easily identified if spotted. Many adult Saturniids, or silkmoths, lack mouthparts and do not feed; that is the case for this species. Imperial Moth larvae feed on a variety of host plants, including both conifers and deciduous trees. Like other silkmoths, the body of the Imperial Moth has a furry appearance. This individual was shedding hairs, some of which you can see on the leaf in the detail above.

One of the most charming aspects of this moth was the face, shown in the image above. I believe this individual is a female.