Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Say hello to my little friend

Say hello to my little friend

This guy came into my life in late August of last year. A polyphemus caterpillar was found in my front yard (if you're not familiar with their appearance, think Heimlich in A Bug's Life). I captured it, intending to photograph it the next day. He had his own plan and spun a coccoon overnight.

Shortly thereafter, I lost my job to a corporate downsizing and Mr. Polyphemus became my layoff buddy. The coccoon was kept in my garage for safekeeping in hopes that I might get some pictures when the moth emerged. He and I both made it through the winter. I brought him inside a couple of months ago to await the blessed event. Other than a brief stint as a cat toy, the moth pupa spent a comfortable, uneventful stay. I even did some picture taking while it snoozed.


After the cat incident, I kept Mr. Polyphemus on a high shelf in my work area in the basement. I was working away yesterday afternoon when I started to hear a scratching noise. I turned to the shelf and noticed antennae sticking out of the pupal case. I quickly set up a studio space in my garage (got a small bucket of sand, stuck a fallen tree branch into it for a perch, set up a black foam board background -- all on the top of a small freezer in the garage -- set the wriggling pupa at the base of the branch) and waited to see things progress.

Stunted wings

Unfortunately for Mr. P, he had a very difficult time emerging from the shell. The struggle removed some of the hair from his abdomen. Even worse, his wings were only partially emerged for a time, long enough to cut off the flow of fluids necessary to expand them to full size. Instead of the majestic six-inch wingspan I was expecting to photograph, his wings never got any longer than the length of his body, dooming his mission of finding a female with which to mate.

I let Mr. moth out into my backyard to live out his final days. Poyphemus moths do not have working mouth parts, so they do not eat. They only live for a few days after emerging and just have one thing on their to-do list. This guy's problem is going to make it difficult for him to schedule any dates with the ladies.

Photographs © 2009 James Jordan.


SD at "Addicted to The Click" said...

Absolutely Amazing!

Gudl said...

Wow! Very cool story and pics!!

Dona said...

Fantastic James! Sorry for your pal, but the photographs are wonderful. Maybe a female will take pity on him.