This Beauty is a Silk Moth, one of the largest moths in Florida. The host plant is the Oak. I must have snapped a hundred pictures, I just could not get enough of being able to see this creature up close.
This is what I encountered, and yes, just by the size of this caterpillar I knew I had a 'treasure'
|caterpillar, last stage|
As soon as I left it alone in the little butterfly habitat, with oak leaves and twigs, it started to spin its cocoon
|silk moth cocoon|
On a sunny afternoon, the moth cut a hole into the cocoon
and there he is. Males have large feathery antennae, to better sense the females
and just look at that pelt! one would think it be too warm to wear in Florida ;-)
During the day they camouflage themselves pretty well by looking like some brown oak leaves
But when the moth feels threatened it quickly opens its wings with the eye-spots mimicking owl's eyes (hopefully startling away the predator).
The moth is named after the Greek Cyclops Polyphemus, the gigantic one-eyed son of Poseidon. Here's a close up of the 'Eye'
|the eye of Polyphemus|
The average wingspan is 6 inches
|Antheraea polyphemus, family Saturniidae|
click the pictures for larger size :)