A Moth-God-The Polyphemus Moth

A Moth God-Polyphemus ( with notes on other insects I have studied)

The Polyphemus Moth is named after the Giant Cyclops found in Greek mythology. One look at the adult moth will tell you why-their back wing is marked with a large “eye spot”, which is a means of protection during their short adult life. Predators may see the “eye spot” and think it is a larger creaure, thus helping it avoid predators.

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The scientific name for the Polythem Moth is Antheraea polyphemus. They are part of the silk moth family and are commonly found in most parts of the United States. They are large moths,(4-6 inch wing span), with medium brown color being prominent on the top wings of both sexes. There are smaller eye spots on the front wings, with the coloring on both sets of “eye spots” being yellow at the edge, with pink next to the yellow and a white center. The bottom of the wings are of a duller brown, matching the bark of deciduous trees from which they feed. It is easy to tell males from females as the males have “feather-like antennae” which pick up pheromes from the females, which have straight antennae with no feather like structures.


I have enjoyed raising moths and butterflies my entire adult life. Neighbors often refer to me as the “Bug lady”, and it is fr om neighbors or family members that I obtain most of my specimens. It is especially interesting when I get a female who has not yet laid her eggs. The males hatch a few days prior the females, often in late afternoon. On this occasion, a neighbor told me of a pair of large moths were mating on her garage door on early evening in late May. Her husband had seen the moths there the night before. Poeple often give me an “Are you crazy?” look when I ask, “Oh, can I have them?” This neighbor loved the idea that her yung son might be able to observe their life cycle. Since I have quite a few grandkids, I was excited to share the Polyphemus experience with them as well.


I could only hope that the Polyphemus pair had mated, because they seperated when I put them in a cage that I keep for such purposes. By the next morning, the female had laid several hundred eggs all over the cage. In the wild, they would have been laid on the bottom of deciduous leaves, which serve as food for the caterpillars when they hatch. The male and female are short lived and die soon after mating. Many large moths do not eaven have eating parts, they simply mate and die. I kept the deceased adult moths to show children ( and adults) who wanted to see them. Most of the moths lifespan is spent as a cocoon. The eggs hatch after about 12 days and feed vorciously for about three weeks before pupating.


The caterpillars grow quickly and have about 5 instars (they must shed their outer skins in order to grow). As the caterpillars go through their instar stages, their bright green coloring with yellow spots becomes more apparent. They have six sets of feet-two which are close to the reddish-brown head, with a small space between four more sets of legs, In their rear, there are two claspers which help them grasp the vein of a leaf as they feed. They have an “anal plate” at the end of their last segment.

I have counted eleven segments on my caterpillars, but have read articles that said they had only nine. I can only report what I have seen on my own. I have read that fifth instar male larva had a black “pit” on its lower abdomen which females lack, but I have nt seen it. I intend to check this out. The caterpillars life consists of eating, defacating deep geen pellets and resting. They are easily handled. I had to be careful when I changed their leaves, because their grip on their food source is quite strong, especially with the grippers on the ninth segment.

My story of the moth is meant to be more “my own experience’ than purely educational, and I suggest you look up the Polyphemus moth to learrn more about them. The pictures in this article will be my own. I am sure you can find more detailed descriptions and photographs in internet articles such as Wikipedia and other internet articles, along with books, which I used as my sources of information when I was not sure of the exact data I was reporting.

One problem that I have had with raising large moths is that there is a seemingly “natural” die-off of the larvae as they grown. In nature, of course, predation takes many of the larvae. I had the “dying off” problem with a brood of Royal Walnut Caterpillars which I raised from their mother laying eggs to their cocoon stage, Some eggs never hatch, some hatch a few days late. In the case of my Polyphemus moths, I put them in a larger container when they reached their 2nd or third instar and put the container on the enclosed sun porch. When I checked on them in the afernoon, tiny ants had invaded and killed about half of the 71 larva that had made it that far. From then on, the cage stayed in my house! It was very disappointing because I had felt fortunate in having so many survive that long.

It was very hot during the time the larvae were going through their instars and even though I tried to keep the leaves moist and fresh, I would note several moths that looked unhealthy each night and they would be limber and dead by morning. I became aware that once in a while, the larva could not free itsself from its smaller instar as it grw and it would “bind” the caterpilar , stopping its grown
th. I succssfully helped several caterpillars finish the shedding of their instar, even the “face” part, which was “scary”. I was afraid of hurting them. I used a sharp needle and gently broke the stands that held the old exoskeleton on. It was a new and rewarding experience with Moths, I had done the same proceedure with praying mantises and even black and yellow argiopes many years ago. I always waited until I was sure the larva could not escape the exoskeleton beforeI interfered.

A week ago, I had 16 larvae left. Although I havekep the leaves fresh and the cage indoors, I have lost about 9 more. (It is now July 4th). Some looked like they are in their fifth instar and I have placed sticks into their age for them to climb on an pupate. Two nights ago, two larva began to spin cocoons on a stick. They used a very strong silk to attach themselves to the stick and leaves, after all, they are hey are classified as silk moths. Another moth begn making silk on the side if the cage, and I carefully wrapped him in a leaf with a stick, hoping he will continue to pupate. I have rearraged the leaves and sticks so that the moths would be more likely to attach to a stick than the side of the cage. Research has taught me that Luna moths and Polyphemus moths have to work hard to escape from their cocoon as they have no natural “escape hatch” or weak place in the cocoon which helps aid their journey to adulthood. Each time, I am offered an opportunity to observe the life cycle of a moth or butterfly, I turn up more ineresting facts about them. I will continue to make photographs of the Polyphemus moths that I am now raising and hope to use them in tthis article. With the possible exception of a polyphemus cocoon, the photographs are my own.

Information about Other Butterflies and Moths I Have Raised

It is my goal to learn about each moth or butterfly as I watch them grown. There is no better way to learn that to observe the life cycle as you do your research. I have seen a black swallow tail female lay her eggs on a plant which I planted in a pot and, within my cage, observe thir entire life cycke. (Their natal plant is the wild carrot, also called Queen Anne’s Lace, or regular carrot or dill plants.) Seeing the amazement on the face of a child as they hold a newly hatched butterfly on their finger is beyond comparison. We have hatched many monarchs found as eggs or larvae on milkweed, better known as butterfly weed.


All moths and butterflies must excrete a liquid when they hatch. Some of it consists of waste accumulated during pupation but they must also “pump up” their wings in order to live. This excretion is not only normal, but necessary to their survival. The monarch has a beautiful geen chrysalis with gold spots. Most moth and butterfly eggs hatch 10-12 days after the female lays the eggs. It takes a while for a newly hatched adult to gain strenght and fly away, so there is time for gently holding them on a finger and watching them take flight for the first time.

By letting the word out among neighbors and friends, I have had the opportunity to observe the life cycles of many species of moths and buterflies, along with spiders, such as the Black and Yellow Argiope (Garden spider), the Black Widow Spider and insects such as Ladybugs and the fascinating Preying Matis-the only insect that can turn its head. Nature is out there for us to enjoy and learn from. I am surprised that more people do not take the opportunity to do so. Whether it is an insect, spider, or perhaps a flowering plant, nature offers us many opportunities to learn and to share the wonders of nature with those around us.

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Aunt Bettie’s Love Making Poem

This hand-written poem was found in my great aunt Bettie Rayburn Bryant’s scrap book. She was a WAC (this is what women who served in the military were called)- serving with the Air Force. She was a Staff Sergeant while serving in Germany in the Post World War II occupation and married her husband , Technical Sergeant Howard Bryant, while at Erding Air Depot near Munich, Germany. The both retired in the early 1960’s after more than 20 years in the service. I do not know if she wrote it or someone else did and she though it was funny. I will let you guess what the subject of the poem is!!

(Oh, ok, it is her favorite poem about Love Making)

From twenty to thirty, if a man lives right
It’s once in the morning and once a night.
From thirty to forty, if he still lives right,
He cuts out the mormng- or else the night).
From fourty to fifty, its now and then
From fifty to sixty, its God knows when.
From sixty to seventy, if he’s inclined,
Don’t let him kid you, its all in his mind.

With women, its different, it’s morning and night.
Regardless of whether they live wrong or right.
Age cuts no figure, they’re always inclined.
Nothing to get ready, not even their mind!
So after it all is said and done,
A man, at sixty, has had his fun.
While a woman at sixty (and figures don’t lie)
They can take the old root, till her time comes to die!

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A Flash of Light


Just as lightning flashes across the western sky, followed quickly by rolls of thunder with a violent shaking of our sheltered home, summer pushes the joys of spring out so quickly that we must take a sharp, deep breath to lavish in its beauty before it is gone. As I clean out my fathers house, gently touching old drawings and clay creations from my youth, I remember how fast life has gone by. Yesterday, my children laughed and played as I taught them about nature. Today, I smile, and wipe a tear, as I see my children teaching their little ones these same lessons.

One day, it seems, the tiny green buds of spring leaves appear, the daffodills cover old pastures and fields, and snowball bushes explode in white and seem to wither before our eyes. I sat with my little ones at the bus stop, watching spring chasing winter away. We would see the progression of azalea blooms in yards, first the magenta, then the white. I remember the sping walks in the forest, where, with luck, the lovely flame azalea could be seen in a shade of orange that man could never quite tame for front lawns. Today, a grandchild brings me a boquet of flowers, reciting their names, just as I did with their mom.

Spring is but a flash of light between the ice of winter and the sweat of July. The dogwoods fade before we can embrace them, the walks in the forest when the leaves have just begun to bud and the ephermal wild flowers dash to grasp fleeting days of sun before the leaves of deciduous giants steal their sunlight and thus their season. As we grow old, we learn of natures ways, just as the plants seem to know when the season is right. We no longer allow ourselves to be fooled by a few weeks of warmth.

One day, we notice the tiny shoots of summer perennials as we await the endless “winters” of the mountain springs. “Don’t bother to plant your garden before the stealthy ‘winters’ have finally disappeared”, the old-timers warned us. “Won’t do no good-weather will kill them ever time”, our uncles and grandfathers would laugh as we, their youthful students rushed to plant seeds before it was time. Now, it is me, my generation, who issue the warnings to the young.

I remember, as I sit in my parents now silent home, how the disappointment of the cold spell in April that grandma called, “dogwood winter”,and the “told you so” nod from my father when “blackberry winter” made me sad. The cold that layed frost on the tips of plants in early May has now come and gone and left signs of age on me as well.

Each year, we plant new seeds, shelter the perrenials and watch as time flies by. Soon, the summers black-eyed susans and pumpkin colored butterfly weeds are covered with swallowtails and monachs as they dart about, hiding tiny eggs beneath the sheltering leaves. I notice how my garden has grown smaller each year, just as my grandchildren now see their parents toil away as I one did.

The sun we welcomed in spring has us seeking shade in summer. At last we are all in the same place, leaning against the old apple tree. I remember that soon fall will chase away summer, just as summer moved in on spring. I close my eyes and remember teaching my kids of the majesty of nature, so thankful, and perhaphs a bit surprised that in this modern age, my children still take time to marvel at natures magic with their own little ones.

As quickly as a flash of light, autumn will cast its shadow upon the land, just as it has cast its weathered skin on me. “Life is but a slide show of memories to me.” I whispered to my grandchild. “What’s a slide show?” she asked, as again, that flash of light appeared in the evening sky. “A series of pictures that tell a story.” I said with a smile. “Oh.” she giggled as she snatched a daisy and placed it behind her ear, twirling in the sun.

For a moment, I saw her mother there, before me, with a flower I had put in her hair, and then my mother placing a tiny rose amist my curls. Life really was likea slide show-a series of pictures-of memories, that tell us a story. In spite of technology, cell phones, and texting, the life cycles of plants and animals were still the same. Those special little moments, if we take the time, are still the same.

***Look for my blog on the life cycle of the Polyphemus moth coming soon-We can’t rush nature. How many children (or adults) have watched the entire life cycle of a butterfly. Moth, or praying mantis? Mine have, and my grandchildren have.Hopefully, their children will, as well.

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I am….I have….I will….


I am strong, I look in the mirror and see myself young.

I dance with the music. I sing with the wind.

I laugh at those who take themselves too seriously.

They will not imprison me in their world.

I am worthy. I can still dream, hope, I still live.

I open my heart to those who will share with me-

the rememberance of youth,

I will find moments of joy and celebrate them.

I will find moments of pain and conquer them.

I will take the strengh given freely by friends and multiply it among others.

I give to you my hand, my heart-

to share as you will, to love as you wish,

to breathe in as a fresh blossom in spring.

I am…..I have….I will…….

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The Loss of Hope


Since my creative side seems to be on vacation, I decied to reblog an old poem-if you know of any PROMP site still active, please let me know, they really brought out the creativity in me, and I need that right now.

Originally posted on beebeesworld:


I dream of you-your face,your smile, how I cherished it

how it made my soul feel alive, even in the worst of times

and then I realize you are gone-never NEVER do I have

the slightest hope of seeing you, touching you again.


I wonder how many times I can die-drowning in this pain?


And I dream of those still here, yet so far away

wonder if I have any more chance of touching them, loving them

than I do those who lie among the flowers on the hill…


Hope-sometimes it dies because life has stolen it

and you don’t know why or how to fix it, even though it could be- somehow

and sometimes it dies when hearts stops beating.

There is no breath, no life, what wasis frozen in time,

all that is left is night, darkness, dreams…


I wonder, here, alone…

View original 23 more words

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Knockin on Heaven’s Door-Guns N Roses

It has been a rough spring, lonely, depressing, sad.  Remembering past days when I had youth, dreams, hope on my side, I have found solace in listening to some of my favorite songs from younger days. ” Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns N Roses, not only seems to express my disappointment, but also my will to go on…   Relax and remember when….Axl Rose and Slash tried to get along, The way Slash (Sean Hudson) had complete command of any guitar in his hand, Axl’s sexy moves and wonderfully exotic presence on stage, the way the band seemed to come together for the massive audiences (well, most of the time…)  before Slash found Miles Kennedy to sing with, probabaly a much better, smoother match, more soothing than the screams and shouts attributed to the Guns N Roses crowd.  Perhaps, before we learned “The story behind the scenes” of many of the bands during the late 1980’s  to the mid 1990’s. Go to “you tube” and spend a while “back in the day!.”

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Brownstone Blues


Brownstone Blues

My newspaper opens to a “Questions for the Editor” column in Section C. The first question brought memories that I had tried to put behind me-for many reasons. Unwillingly, they crept back into my mind. They have not left all day.

A writer had asked “what the two little buildings were-one looking like it might have been a church”-in a run down part of town that has seen recent interests in renovation”.Right away, I realized that  I knew a lot more about it than the editor. It was a church in the 1970’s and 80’s, the little congregation  even had managed to raise the money to build the little cement block social hall next door before the church ran low on members and closed it’s doors for good. Closed, like so many little Evangical Churches did when the neighborhood were in decline or attendance waggered.

My ex’s family went to church there all of their lives.  My 1st wedding, 40 years ago was there, my shower in the “new” cement block building. I had seen the church and event hall there, empty maybe fifteen years later, after a short try by another church to lure members in-it failing as well. It was sad, but the reason it failed was much deeper, closer to my heart.

The “projects” were just down the street, and the houses around it were run down and filled with both older, long term residents and young people on the edge of povery and drug use, some still struggling to hold on to family land.

I knew these people, they were my friends.  After an abusive marrige ended, I was part of that world for a time as I began my struggle to find a new life.

The small, sad, church was a reminder than in THIS community,at that time,  their savior, their woman, their daily life was not God, but “brownstone” (heroin, dilaudids, whatever was handy) or a thin white line between misery and estacy. I realize that “regular people” don’t understand these things. They don’t talk about it, especially now, as the plague has moved to another neighborhood. Not disappeared, as folks want to believe, simply moved.

I am of an age when I look at the obituaries first  when I open the newspaper. It is sad to see the parents of friend listed there, just as I have seen my own, but what breaks my heart is seeing the friends, I knew, hung out with, were close to, long ago, listed there too. It has been a shock, not one that was unexpected, but disappointing, often scary when the “beloved” was someone I knew well. It was often hurtful-knowing it could have easily been me. I’ve looked over death certificates in the Court House to see the ’causes of death’ in my friends’ obituaries.  It is always a shock, some of them in their mid- fifties, others in their early sixties. Liver or pancreatic cancer, alcohohoc abuse, drug overdose were listed as the cause of death. Some were homeless, many had gotten their lives together, only to watch them fall apart again. As few, like me, had suffered and survived.

In my younger days, the friends I lost to a life of the brownstone blues, herion, dilaudids, cocaine, a long list of substitues for the hard fight life can become -would often be more violent. A friends’ brother was shot on the sidewalk of the projects during a drug deal, another friends’ brother, missing for days, discovered shot dead in the trunk of a car. Maybe I would read that someone close to me had been  arrested, or the weekly trips to court listed people I had known.  One night, I heard that a childhood girlfriend, had overdosed from cocaine at The age of 23. When I had teens of my own, a friends son, blew his head off after drugs did not cure his depression. The sad story goes on.

I remember, “back in the day”, listening to the hard rock songs I’ve always loved (and still do). They told the true stories of young men (and women) who made it big, only to find the pressure of musical careers and the ease of obtaining drugs ruining their lives. Some made it to tell their story, many did not.

There is a series on “You Tube” called “Behind the Music” that tells many of these tales. In the music world, when a group found success, they often found another world as well. The program allows members of the music groups to tell the story of how life became a series of drugs, highs and lows, ruined lives, wasted talent and too often wasted lives.

I know it didn’t start with Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc., but it was the first time I was old enough to hear of it. Living on the cusp of these times, then being reminded of them years later, simply made me realize how easy it can be to try to ease a pain that cannot be eased. We were numbing those unspeakable pains with habits so addictive that only the strongest survive-sometimes.

I don’t have an answer, I have lived through my own hell, I live through it every day, but somehow managed to recognize the stop sign when it appeared before me. I had heard too many times, the stories of people falling for someone on drugs or even alcohol, and the cynical laugh of their friends when they said, “Man, herion IS their woman, they “think” with that needle in their arm-or wherever they can find a spot where the veins have not collapsed. You, dear,  don’t have a chance.”

The list grows, the sorrows of life increased over time, but for those of us who made it, those who ended up in jail or dead and the lucky ones who managed to stay away from problems so deep that we felt there was no answer.

I’ve heard it called the “brownstone blues”. No one who hadn’t been there would know what it meant if it came up in random conversation. I think of the little church, and todays generation not even knowing that once God lived there, or tried to.

One day, I think I will drive by and force my mind to remember-both the days when church services struggled there, and the times, when the lights were out day and night. I wish to those trying to re-use the structures, the grace to remember what WAS and what CAN BE-not just in that neighborhood, but in YOURS.

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