About

This blog chronicles my experience raising and breeding the Antheraea polyphemus moth (and now other species!), a giant silk moth that is common throughout North America and Mexico.

I started breeding moths when I was in third grade.  Years later, in my early 20s, I’m still at it.

I enjoy reading and responding to your comments (especially questions regarding moths), so please post away! If you have questions for me regarding moths, please post them here.

My other interests include programming, wild mushrooms, and succulent plants. I have an exciting new internet product in the pipeline that combines my love for all of those things…I’ll post an update when it’s ready for the world to see.

Tim Sakhuja

117 responses to “About

  1. Mary

    Hi, My Polyphemus moth hatched inside my kitchen during the blizzard. Feb 25. It’s a female and now has escaped it’s cage after fluttering around last night. Will an un mated female still lay eggs around my apartment?? Or am I safe…

    Thanks.

    • tsakhuja

      Hi,
      Unmated Polyphemus moths will eventually start laying eggs around apartment after two or three days. They can lay eggs all over the place – furniture, walls, etc., but luckily, the residue comes off with a wet cloth. To reduce the risk of the moth getting injured and laying eggs everywhere, you should try to capture it and put it back in its cage if you can. Let me know if I can help you with anything else.
      -Tim

  2. Crystal Laman

    I found a dead female polyphemus moth and there are what appear to be eggs next to her. It looks as though she might have been stepped on. Should I do something with the eggs since I’m pretty positive she didn’t lay the eggs herself.

    • tsakhuja

      Hi Crystal,

      If it looks like the eggs on the ground got there as a result of someone stepping on her (ie she was smashed), then they are not fertile. Polyphemus eggs are only fertilised as they are laid, so if she didn’t lay them while she was alive, they aren’t fertile. You should also be able to tell by looking at them. If she laid them, they will have a brown ring around their circumference. If not, they’ll appear very pale and white.

      If they do look like she laid them, you can collect them and wait about 15 days to see if they’re fertile. Good luck!

  3. crystal

    Unfortunately, they’re not fertilized. That’s the one thing that I noticed about the eggs is that they were pale white. Thanks so much for your help. =0)

  4. hi i don’t know if you will no this as i have a different type of moth but my son caught a Promethean moth and kept it in a cage to show me when i get home from work anyway that night we released it and after we did so we noticed little white eggs with a brown ring around them in the moths old cage what i was wondering was is there any way to tell if the eggs are fertilized or not being as she was kept in a cage with no other moth i assumed there were not but just in case i wanted to check with you

    • tsakhuja

      Hey there.

      I have never reared Prometheus moths myself, but they are very similar to other saturniidae such as Polyphemus and Ceanothus. If the moth laid eggs, they are most likely fertile. Females don’t usually lay eggs unless they have mated or have gotten old and given up on finding a mate. Also, they don’t usually fly until they’ve mated, so if your son saw the moth flying around when he caught it, then you’ve most likely got fertile eggs. I’ve a feeling they are fertile, but the only way to know for sure is to wait and see if they hatch. It usually takes about 9-15 days from the date they were layed. If they do end up hatching, let me know and I’ll get you a list of food plants for the caterpillars so you can either feed them or release them. Good luck!

  5. penny

    Saw my first Antheraea Polyphemus yesterday in Memphis. Took my breath away. Got some great pictures. Thinking of raising them. Live in Memphis with an acre of Oak Trees. What are my chances of finding a start in my yard. Eggs, or cacoons. What are my chances of finding someone who has some to sell to me.
    Thanks
    Penny

    • tsakhuja

      Hi Penny!

      Congrats on seeing your first Polyphemus moth! Too many people live their lives without ever knowing that these beautiful creatures fly in our midst.

      Raising Polyphemus moths is an excellent, relatively low-maintenance hobby. Although I can tell you from experience that things get a little more time consuming when you start rearing them by the hundreds (which can happen quite easily if you’re not judicious about releasing newly-hatched moths…). It’s pretty difficult to find caterpillars or eggs on those giant green oak trees or any trees, for that matter. Your chances of finding a nucleus for this hobby improve when the leaves turn, as cocoons are often easy to spot hanging from branches. They have a particular ovoid shape that’s easy to distinguish from dead leaves that have failed to drop. All you’ll need is something like a long branch cutting pole to reach those high up cocoons.

      If you’re impatient like me, however, you won’t want to wait until fall or winter. I would suggest placing a light out at night to attract wild moths. Mercury vapor or UV lights (like the ones used in bug lamps at grocery stores and such) work best, but a regular old incandescent will do in a pinch. Check the area surrounding the lights for wild moths sometime between 11:30 pm and 3 am. If you’re able to catch a female, chances are she has fertile eggs. Place her in a large paper grocery bag overnight and if you’re lucky, you’ll find fertile eggs the next morning.

      Of course, there are plenty of breeders who will sell you eggs or cocoons…but it’s always more rewarding if you can catch your own! I’d recommend buying from Bill Oelkhe, a reputable supplier.

      Good luck!!! Just let me know if you need any more advice!

  6. Jon

    I found a Polyphemus caterpillar walking across my yard on a cold morning on Oct 8th in southern new jersey. I brought it inside to show my son and we put it in his bug cage. Within an hour he started spinning a cocoon. I want to keep him until he emerges but I’m not sure how long it will take and if the weather will be to cold to release it. I assume it was looking for a place to overwinter as a cocoon when i found it. any advice?

    • tsakhuja

      Hey Jon,

      The moth will spend the winter months in its cocoon and will probably hatch around May or June. It is important to keep the cocoon outdoors during the winter so it’s exposed to natural temperatures and lighting, which will ensure that hatches at at an appropriate time (i.e. when there are actually leaves on the trees outside). Be sure to put it in some sort of an enclosure so birds and rodents can’t get to it. Good luck!

      Tim

  7. Jill

    Hi Tim –

    My son found a Polyphemus catipillar Sept 27 2011. It was crawling in the street. He brought it in to show me and I had never seen anything like it and was amazed at the size. My son called the zoo to see if it was something we could bring them – they gave us an address we could take it to in order to have it identified.
    Thanks to Google that didn’t take me long to figure out what it was and that it was in it’s 5th instar. We put it into a container and a bunch of different leaves (wasn’t sure which ones it liked). Withiin half an hour it started spinning which I got some pictures and video of.
    My son took it to school a couple days later hoping that it would hatch in about 2 1/2 weeks like we read – but no such luck. Now it is Nov 1 11 and he brought it home today and it is making noises and you can feel it moving if you put your hand under the container. Though we see no visible movement. For 6 hours – same thing. I’ve researched lots and can’t figure out if that means it is going to emerge or if it will wait until spring. We thought maybe the noise meant it was coming out – though weather wise and the month – it doesn’t make much sense.
    Any suggestions would be helpful. Also – do I need to mist it? I have never raised a butterfly or moth, so I’m new to this.
    We live near Portland Oregon.

    Thanks so much

    Jill

    • tsakhuja

      Hey Jill,

      Since it’s so late in the season, the cocoon is definitely going to overwinter. In my experience, when Polyphemus moths overwinter, they’ll generally hatch during sometime in late May or early June…perhaps a bit later since you are north of me. It’s important to keep the cocoon outside (in an enclosure to keep out of birds’ mouths) so that it remains in tune with the season and hatches at an appropriate time (when it’s warm and the trees have leaves). Let me know if you have any more questions—I’m happy to help.

      Tim

    • Brandyn

      I live in WI and just finished raising my Polyphemus moth from a caterpillar. When it starts moving, it is attempting to escape from it’s first cocoon. There are actually 2 cocoons involved…There’s a dark brown one inside of a tan/leafy silk one. Mine went into it’s cocoon in August and hatched successfully just yesterday. I kept it inside under a desk lamp and simulated photo periods for Winter and Spring and it turned out fine. Don’t mist it!!! They release an enzyme that helps them dissolve their outermost cocoon when they’re ready to emerge.

  8. Hi, about a month ago I started a leaf collection and was collecting leaves and found one with a cocoon on it, I wasn’t sure until tonight and I didn’t know what kind until now. But tonight, before I looked up what kind it could be I was thinking to myself well idk if its alive or even if it is a moth, butterfly, or even some other bug, so it took me a while but I cut a small slit in it enough to see inside and I don’t know If I have killed its chances of surviving. I read your other comments on how to take care of it till may but since I cut it open on the cocoon idk if I killed it. ???
    Any help would be appreciated I would love if I still have a chance to keep it till it comes out.
    I live in missouri
    Thanks, Grace.

    • tsakhuja

      People cut slits in cocoons all the time to determine the gender of the developing moth inside (as determined by the outline of the antennae on the pupa). The cocoon should be fine (as long as you only cut the outer silk “shell,” not the actual developing moth inside).
      If you want more information on how to take care of it so it hatches, take a look at my answer to the previous comment on the “About” page.

      Good luck!

    • Joe

      I’ve raised many of these moths myself. What I’ve found is cutting a slit in the cocoon is fine. You must be careful to not hurt the moth pupa. But also I’ve found that completely removing the pupa from the cocoon results in the pupa almost completely drying up and eventually dying. And so I’ve learned to judge the gender by not the pupa itself, but by the size of the cocoon as female cocoons are quite a bit larger than the males usually.

      -Joe

  9. Hi!

    Kids in our summer camp collected a Polyphemus larva this summer and it spun a cocoon before we could set it free. It has had a home in our office since August, and we just recently realized that it hatched…. We didn’t do any research on it until now, and at first we thought it was going to be a lunar moth, but it’s definitely Polyphemus. Our problem is that it’s February…. in Vermont…. Will she live until spring when we can release her in the milder temperatures? What do we need to do to keep her happy? If we let her out to roam around… will she lay eggs? And will her eggs hatch?

    Thanks!

    • tsakhuja

      These moths don’t eat, and as a result only live around 2 weeks. You can keep the moth in a little cage if you have one, or a box. Other than that, she won’t need anything. She will start to lay eggs after 2 or 3 days, but they won’t be fertile. If you let her roam around at night, she’ll probably lay eggs on the walls and get stuck in places, so it’s not the best idea.

      Have fun! Let me know if you have any more questions.

      –Tim

  10. Hi, yesterday morning my Polyphemus moth hatched and its a girl. Today at 3 pm I came out to check on her and there was one egg next to her with a brown ring around it. Can she to lay eggs before she has mated? If it has a brown ring around it is it fertile? How long after they hatch do they mate?

    • tsakhuja

      Just like chickens, moths can lay unfertilized eggs before they’ve mated.

      Polyphemus moths will usually begin to release pheromones to attract mates after midnight the day they hatch. If the moth was in a cage with relatively wide spacing and is left outdoors, it can potentially mate with a wild male. I need to write a moth mating guide…

  11. Justin

    Hello! I just caught my second Polyphemus moth in two weeks, the first was a female and she was dieing when I found her. Last night 5/2/2012 I caught the second also female and Ive decided Im going to hatch the eggs. I have a box to keep her in while she is laying eggs but should i mist her? I know they dont eat but what should the humidity be like? What kind of lighting? (cycles like night and day?) Right now she is just in a cardboard box with oak leaves. What else can I do? Also should the larvae be misted or should the leaves I collect for them be misted? I live outside Tulsa Oklahoma.

    -Thanks!!

    • tsakhuja

      Hey there,
      I usually use a big paper bag because it’s easier to collect the eggs after they’re laid, but a cardboard box should work fine too. Take the leaves out, though, because they can offgas CO2 that can suffocate the eggs. The moth will still lay without them.

      Don’t worry too much about the humidity. Just don’t mist—it promotes bacterial growth (that goes for the leaves too…just make sure you replace them when they begin to dry out). Natural lighting (dark during the night, bright during the day) will be fine, as long as the moth and eggs are not in direct sunlight.

      Good luck!
      Tim

  12. Ryan

    I was just up north and i brought back 2 polyphemus moths in a container do i have to put plants and stuff in it for them to mate im pretty sure ones male and ones female

  13. Ryan

    One of my moths laid an egg its pale white but theres brown around the bottom what does that mean?

  14. Ryan

    One of my moths keeps flipping out and flapping its wings and wont sit still its always shaking and now i noticed a little piece of the end of his wings are missing whats going on?

    • tsakhuja

      Moths vibrate their wings when they feel threatened. It will calm down in a few minutes.

      The flapping means it’s excited; if it’s a male it might be sensing the presence of a female. They often damage their wings when they try to fly in captivity. It shouldn’t be too harmful to the moth and there’s not much you can do to prevent it.

  15. Brad

    Good morning Tim,

    I have hatched plenty of Cecropia moths over my years, but just finished a cocoon spin and hatch by a female Polyphemus moth. It looks like the normal gestation of the eggs is aprox 1 to 2 weeks per comments on posts above. My question is what should I feed the catepillars as they hatch? I live in Michigan and I see plenty of host plants listed. Is one preferred or better for them as they hatch? As they go thru different instars, do they like to change food choice?

    • tsakhuja

      Good afternoon,
      From what I know, most people in the Midwest and East feed polyphemus caterpillars some variety of oak (such as black or pin oak). They prefer to eat the same hostplant throughout development. Good luck!
      Tim

  16. Ryan

    So about 10 of them hatched and there really ugly haha but anyway what should i feed them?

  17. Marie

    Hey I want to Buy some of these Polyphemus eggs cause i found one in the park and i really liked it so do u know were i could get some

  18. jmlives@comcast.net

    Hi!! I had a bad go around with some polyphemus caterpillars I was raising. Out of 12 eggs only one reached full maturity, she luckily is female so I put her outside, on her first night she had no response from a male so I brought her inside, she laid 6 eggs, all cream colored with dark rings around the egg(I know that this means that she laid them and is not indication of fertilization). The second night I put her out in a old rodent cage, I checked on her that morning and thought no male had come again but when I looked down there was a male resting on the bottom part of the outside of the cage. He was pretty beat up looking, lots of scales missing and a few legs missing as well. I know that they mate for approximately 20 hours but I was wondering if you think it is possible that they mated for even a short period and if so would she be fertile even if it was a shortened mating period. When I brought her in that morning she was laying eggs like crazy, my last count was 100. I did notice these eggs looked slightly different from the firs 6 she laid, they were still cream colored with the brown rings but all of these eggs had and tan to brownish dot/smug in the center. I brought him in as well but he was just flopping around at the bottom of the cage, not trying to mate or anything, I ended up letting him go that evening. Last night I put her out again just in case she could call another male (I do know that once they mate and lay eggs that they will not call another male) but on one came. Do you think that possibly she mated with the male the previous night? Im pretty sure Im just going to have to wait and see but the anticipation is killing me already!! Thanks for reading my novel :)

    Heather

    • tsakhuja

      Hey Heather,

      Sounds to me like your moth mated. Why do I think so? Moths want to mate. Since the male probably had to fly several miles to find your moth (expending the last of its precious energy reserves), chances are it didn’t waste the trip. Also, accelerated egg-laying is a sign that mating has happened. Even if the moths mated for only a short period of time, it’s quite likely that the eggs are fertile. But as you’ve alluded to, the only surefire way to know is to wait and see.

      Good luck!

      • Jmlives@ comcast.net

        Wow! Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly and for all of the valuable information you have shared! I’ll be sitting here for the next 18 or so days patiently waiting for a hopeful hatching. Thanks again!!

  19. Hi Tim,
    I have about 30+ eggs from a female polyphemus moth who mated (I believe) with the male in her habitat. I don’t know if they are all going to be fertilized or not as I don’t think they kept mating – it may have only been once or twice??? But this silly female only wanted to lay eggs while my daughter was holding her. If she put the moth back in the habitat or on a leaf she would stop again until my daughter picked her up again. Anyway, to give any babies that make it the best chance I was trying to figure out if I should buy a small host tree or something to feed them or just collect leaves …. it seems like the leaves will dry out very quickly & could be contaminated with foreign chemicals etc… but a small tree may not be enough to feed them (if any hatch….) Any thoughts?
    Thanks very much,
    Heather

    • tsakhuja

      I’ve always had success feeding caterpillars clipped branches, but it definitely requires more work than tree-rearing. Keeping cut leaves fresh is simple. If you wrap the cut ends of the clipped branches in moist paper towel and cover them with foil, the leaves will stay fresh for several days. Ensuring the leaves you collect are pesticide-free is slightly more difficult. If the leaves are from ornamental or forest trees, chances are they’re fine (unless you’ve seen people spraying pesticide near them). It’s usually trees that grow in or near farms that you have to be wary of.

      If you wanted to buy a tree to feed them I’m guessing it would need to be at least 6 feet tall and well-foliated.

      Good luck!

  20. indi

    Hi Tim,
    I had polyphemus eggs, 10 of them and have been following your blog while waiting for them to hatch. (Bad Kitty brought me Polyphemus Moth) This morning 6 eggs hatched. I had put the eggs on grape leaves to hatch and have now given these babies fresh grape, cherry, maple and oak leaves. They are 5 hours old at this writing and they haven’t eaten yet. The environment has moisture and I even think I saw one drink a drop of H20 off of a leaf. Is it normal for them not to eat at first? I know it is normal for birds not to eat at first. Should I do something different? Could there be something wrong with the leaves? They seem healthy and are cruising around pretty actively. Thank-you. I’d really like to raise these successfully.
    What mushrooms are around this time of year? I hear I’m in good mushroom country.
    Thanks for your time and help
    Indi

    • tsakhuja

      Hey there,

      Caterpillars will sometimes do some exploring right after they hatch, but they’re programmed to eat—it’s literally all they do—so I’m willing to bet they will have already started eating by the time you read this post. You’ve given them all the right hostplants—it’ll be interesting to see what they choose (my bet’s on oak).

      Excessive moisture in their enclosures isn’t desirable because it promotes bacterial and fungal growth. Try propping open the lid a bit or replacing it altogether with a paper towel secured by a rubber band.

      As for mushrooms, it depends on where you are! Here in the mountains of California, Spring bolete (porcini) season is just winding down (I collected a few pounds last weekend in fact). In the Midwest and East, I believe chanterelle season is at its peak!

      Good luck!

      • indi

        Hi again,
        Thanks for your reply and you are correct on all counts, They’re eating and Oak leaves are the leaf of choice! Only one caterpillar seemed to want to stick on the cherry leaves, but I made the executive decision that they will all have the same diet.
        Amazing though-when I realized misting was a mistake I immediately pulled the last eggs out of the container, they were wet and sticky, the moisture had kind of pooled at the bottom and I figured I’d drowned the last eggs for sure. (Of course not knowing if any were viable to begin with.) So I put them in a really small dry container and placed them on a piece of paper towel to absorb the moisture. This morning two more hatched!!
        I have 8 teeny-tiny caterpillars now. I will do the thing with the paper towel, as I think the gases from the leaves make ‘em a little groggy.
        Thanks so much
        Indy
        ps: I’m in So Oregon, Ashland, and may have missed mushrooms this year but when should I start looking? :)

    • tsakhuja

      Hey there,

      Caterpillars will sometimes do some exploring right after they hatch,
      but they’re programmed to eat—it’s literally all they do—so I’m
      willing to bet they will have already started eating by the time you
      read this post. You’ve given them all the right hostplants—it’ll be
      interesting to see what they choose (my bet’s on oak).

      Excessive moisture in their enclosures isn’t desirable because it
      promotes bacterial and fungal growth. Try propping open the lid a bit
      or replacing it altogether with a paper towel secured by a rubber
      band.

      As for mushrooms, it depends on where you are! Here in the mountains
      of California, Spring bolete (porcini) season is just winding down (I
      collected a few pounds last weekend in fact). In the Midwest and East,
      I believe chanterelle season is at its peak!

      Good luck!

  21. Andrea

    Hi, I woke up to discover my Polyphemus eggs have hatched. It has been 7 hours since I noticed they hatched and they will not eat. I kept the eggs in a small tuba wear container to keep moisture out, and once I noticed they hatched I put two maple leaves inside. I am thinking about trying Oak since they are not eating the maple. I heard Oak leaves provide the healthiest Polyphemus caterpillars. I am starting to think it is normal for some moth caterpillars to not eat for the first day or so because I have heard of other people worrying about this, too. My Luna moth caterpillar has not eaten during the day that I have noticed. Is that normal? I started to raise it on Sweetgum and then switched to another tree. I am going to have to switch back to sweetgum. I suppose most caterpillars prefer to keep what they originally are raised on, unless there is a normal favorite for the type of caterpillar. For instants, my mourning cloaks LOVED willow even though I had not originally started to raise them on it. I have heard others say willow is their favorite as well.

    • tsakhuja

      It’s fairly common for caterpillars to hold off on eating for a few hours after they hatch. They store up plenty of energy by eating their eggshells as they hatch.

  22. Ashley

    Hi! I found a Polyphemus caterpillar outside yesterday and made a little habitat for it. I have never in my life seen such a huge caterpillar!!! This morning I realized that it is already beginning to spin a cocoon! I have a three year old daughter who is having the time of her life watching it! We have all kinds of trees and shrubs in our neighborhood (in Virginia) so I was wondering if you think we would be able to find another one (or more!) roaming around outside? If so, what would be the best time of day to look?

    • tsakhuja

      Polyphemus caterpillars are most commonly encountered when they’re ready to spin their cocoons because they tend to wander around until they’ve found a satisfactory spot. I think it’s difficult to succeed when you go out with the intention of finding a wild caterpillar because they blend in so well and are often quite high up in trees. I’ve searched all my life for polyphemus caterpillars without success…the caterpillar pretty much has to find you! You’ll have far better luck finding cocoons on oak trees in the fall when the leaves are gone.

  23. marisa gusmann

    Hello! I also found a Polyphemus caterpillar (in VA :-) about two weeks ago and made a habitat for him. I was really happy for the little guy because he started to spin silk and I thought for sure he was going to cocoon himself. After about a week and a 1/2 silk cocoon he stopped and has barely moved. I’m afraid he feel out of my tree and was really injured (or dropped from a bird), my dog actually found him. I change the leaves out every day from a variety of trees and he hasn’t eaten once :-( I feel so bad for the little guy and I’m not sure what to do. He’s away from his cocoon and lies on his side a lot. I hate seeing him like this and am upset that he may be starving. I hate to say it but I may have to end it quick for him if you think he is starving also. I hate to see him needlessly suffer and get attacked by other bugs if this isn’t a normal thing for this type of caterpillar. Any advice?

  24. Pingback: Anonymous

  25. rubi

    Hi, I just found a bunch of eggs from a moth that has been in my hallway for about 3 days now. I’m not sure what kind of moth it is but its a bit small and light brown with dark brown and goldish stripes on its wings. The eggs are small and green. Would it be safe for me to try to move the eggs to somewhere safe? And if so what should I put them in and how do I care for them?

  26. Julia

    I found a polyphemus moth caterpillar in August (the 25th) and took it home to show my folks. The very next day he cocooned himself and I decided to keep him (at this time I called it a him even though I couldn’t be sure until it emerged from the cocoon) and watch him “hatch”. Two weeks later he still hadn’t left the cocoon and from what I researched online this meant he would hatch after winter. What puzzels me is that now it’s December (the 4th) and he hatched!! I was very surprised and a bit worried because he (I now know he is in fact male) is not moving all that much and the edges of his wings are ripped. Do you know why he hatched so early? And is the fact that his wings are a bit ripped the reason he is not moving? I’m a bit worried…
    Thanks.

  27. Erik

    Hi Tim,

    Our kids collected the caterpillar of a Polyphemus moth back in the fall and it quickly cocooned. We just now noticed your remark about keeping it in the cold… AFTER it came out of its cocoon. (Oh, crap!)

    Now what? It’s still winter here. Do you have any suggestions for food? Or are our hopes of keeping it alive quite unrealistic this early in the season? Any other thoughts?

    This is our first experience here with moths and we would have preferred to release it in the spring/summer as it should be, but now after keeping it all winter I’d prefer to not have it die. That would be very unfortunate.

    thanks,
    Erik

  28. Erik

    Our kids collected the caterpillar of a Polyphemus moth back in the fall and it quickly cocooned. We just now noticed your remark about keeping it in the cold… AFTER it came out of its cocoon. (Oh, crap!)

    Now what? It’s still winter here. Do you have any suggestions for food? Or are our hopes of keeping it alive quite unrealistic this early in the season? Any other thoughts? By the way, we live in Western New York… and there is still snow outside.

    This is our first experience here with moths and we would have preferred to release it in the spring/summer as it should be, but now after keeping it all winter I’d prefer to not have it die. That would be very unfortunate.

    thanks,
    Erik

    • Kristin

      Erik, we are in the same exact boat, only we are in Minnesota, a day after a major snowstorm. I really wished I had researched more after we ended up with a cocoon we did not expect. There was a monster in the closet of my 7 year old last night, which actually turned out to be this gorgeous moth in his bug cage on a book shelf next to his closet. Of course he is thrilled that his caterpillar has now become this awesome creature. She has even laid eggs. I had to not only tell my son that she will not live long, but that her eggs were not fertilized and will never hatch. There were a few tears with that. I feel so bad we wasted the life cycle of this moth but it really has been quite an adventure for us. I drove him to school today so he could show his science teacher. According to him, “She will know what to do.” Hopefully some other children can learn from this too.

  29. jenna

    i’m buying some of these eggs offline and i have never heard of them or anything i thought it be a great bug to jurnal on.but the only thing is i don’t know how to take care of them.and there are no leaves or anything outside because it just turning spring and i have some few questions do they need to be left outside because i live near a forest and i don’t want the cage to get knocked over by an animal.and is it ok to leave them inside (I NEED HELP)!!!!!!!!

  30. jenna

    have you ever tried ordering them off a website called shady Oak butterfly farm.

  31. Heather

    I’ve raised many Polythemus from Edith at Shady Oak Butterfly Farm.

  32. Heather

    What do you need help with? I may be able to help.

  33. jenna

    Have you ever ordered them with dead eggs

    • jenna

      Tim,
      where would you recommend someone purchase polyphemus moth eggs?

      • tsakhuja

        I’d recommend buying eggs from Bill Oehlke: http://www3.islandtelecom.com/~oehlkew/eggs2013public.htm — Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

        On Fri, Apr 19, 2013 at 3:00 PM, Breeding Polyphemus Moths

  34. Heather

    Are you saying you bought eggs from Shady Oak and they never emerged?

    • tsakhuja

      I’ve never bought eggs from them. Eggs can take up to 3 weeks from the date they’re laid to emerge, so I wouldn’t worry if it hasn’t been that long yet. If the eggs look shriveled up, that’s a different matter. Means they’re not likely going to hatch.  — Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

      On Sat, Apr 20, 2013 at 4:16 AM, Breeding Polyphemus Moths

  35. jenna

    and when i call they don’t pickup or when i email they don’t email me back

  36. jenna

    hey there i orderd them and they should be here sometime soon so thanks for the advice! :)

  37. I am going to order the Antheraea Polyphemus eggs from Shady Oak. I have an acre of Oak trees in my yard. I looked it up and the oak tree is an deciduous tree, So I should not have any trouble with food. Correct?

    • lindsy

      they seem to like oak.but if they crawl away from their food that probily means they don’t like it.so you should change it. but they are also known to eat: willow, birch ,beech,maple,hickory,honey locust,walnut,pear ,quince,plum,peach,apricot,cherry etc,sassafras,orange,grapefruit,lemon,limes, etc and finaly american elm trees.but if they do take the oak it MUST NOT HAVE PESTICIDES ON IT!!!(it will kill them).

  38. Emily

    I NEED HELP here are a couple questions. Do the eggs have to be in humid air?Can the caterpillers eat growing leaves?Can Polyphemus Moths Mate with sibilings?what container should the eggs be in,should it have air holes?do polyphemus moths go into hibernation?

  39. jenna

    good news i orderd them they came,and three hatched they seem to like mapple though!!!!:) ;)

  40. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I have really loved browsing your blog
    posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  41. Penny Dowling

    I will be receiving my order soon of 60 Antheraea Polyphemus eggs. So Excited. It is early Spring here in Memphis. From what I have read, I will not expect to see any Full Grown Poly this year. That they will be in their cocoons till next spring. Is that correct. Or am I getting them early enough that they might form the cocoon and be an adult moth before winter is here.

  42. I have a Sun room that is 20 x 10. It gets good light and the temp. stays about 73. I was wanting to raise the Moth’s in this room. Releasing the over anxious males when necessary. I have a lot of Oak trees to be able to give them branches with leaves. I want to be able to keep a close eye on the life of these Moths, and to film them. Do you think this room would work for this cause.?

  43. Grace

    Hi, I recently ordered polyphemus moth eggs, and they hatched today. I put them on some valley oak leaves, and they are not doing anything! I have heard it is common for the caterpillars not to eat for a while, but they are just sitting there and only moving a little bit every couple minutes (this is the only way I know they’re alive)! Could you tell me if this is normal or if I am not giving them the right food or something else?

    • tsakhuja

      Yes, this is fairly common. New hatchlings eat their eggshells, which supplies them with an ample reserve of energy several hours. They should start eating soon if they haven’t already.  — Timothy Sakhuja tsakhuja@gmail.com

      On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 6:47 PM, Breeding Polyphemus Moths

  44. Gwendy

    My daughter captured this beautiful moth from our front porch the other morning and put it in a bug house. She laid 30 plus eggs that are tan/brown. We are waiting to see if they hatch. We are in NE Washington in the country and not sure what to feed these guys when they emerge. Any idea?
    Thanks

  45. We found a polyphemus last june/july 2012. We put it in a cage in hopes it would turn into a cocoon and change into a moth, which it did. Just a week ago I checked it and it was still in the cocoon. I check today and it had hatched and also laid eggs everywhere. The cocoon was in a bug net type cage outside on a porch, with no way out unless I unzip the top. Could these eggs be fertile? How could a male come and mate through a net cage? I would love for the eggs to hatch and watch the metamorphosis all over again! =] Thanks for any help! (and especially ADVICE ;] )

    • tsakhuja

      The eggs probably aren’t fertile because I don’t think the moth would have been able to mate trough mesh, but you can’t be sure until you wait and see if they hatch. Good luck! — Timothy Sakhuja tsakhuja@gmail.com

      On Tue, May 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM, Breeding Polyphemus Moths

  46. Penny Dowling

    I am reading and reading. How long before the pillars hatch

  47. jenna

    hey there, I got the order about 2 months ago. They all died exept one(witch I named Mo) at this very moment he’s molting into his 3rd instar!:) But one question how big do they get when their in that stage?

    -Jenna

  48. May 30th and June 1st I had 2 females emerge from their winters cacoon in our butterfly observing net thingy. (The kind that zips up for kids to watch caterpillars go through phases) Both layed eggs every where but not sure if they had had any male visitors while we were watching… I’ve been keeping an eye on the eggs but nothing yet…. I’m hoping for something :) should be any day now…

    • Roberta

      I know your post is old, but I too used your method one time, just a bit differently.I put my second female which emerge aug 7th in that butterfly cage you are talking about. She attracted five potential mates (2 flying) (3 on the cage). The boys couldn’t get to her, so we let her free in our screen porch with the 3 boys I scooped up. One got to her in less then 20 mins of me scooping them up and mated for 15hrs. She did lay 5 eggs total before mating. After she mated she laid 50 in a short time frame! I let her free’d after to lay the rest outside and the males too.. Going to ask the school teachers if they want some to raise in class :)

  49. Suzie

    We found an injured polyphemus moth in our back yard. We put her in a cage so the kids could observe her, and she laid several eggs. I want to attempt to hatch the eggs, and I was wondering if there was a way we could remove the eggs with out harming them? If not, what can we do to make the container (a critter carrier with a vented lid) caterpillar escape proof?

    • tsakhuja

      I’d recommend leaving them in the critter container until they hatch, as you might damage the eggs if you try to remove them. You could seal the container with plastic wrap and a rubber band.

      If you do want to remove the eggs, try gently prying them off with your fingernails.

      Good luck!

      • Suzie

        Almost all of the eggs hatched, but the caterpillars didn’t survive longer than a week. My kids want to have a go at it again next year though, so we’re going to order some eggs and we’ll be better prepared for it. Your blog is fantastic! Glad we found it!

  50. Sierra

    HI, i’m not sure if you know much about Isabella tiger moths but i decided to check anyways. I caught one attached to a painted concrete wall at my grandparent’s house yesturday around 7:15pm. since then, at about 7:25pm, i noticed it was laying small yellow balls (eggs?) I checked some other websites and they appear to be eggs. I was wondering if they were fertile. Is there any way to tell?todat at 11:51 am, she is still laying them. Is something wrong? she has attached herself to a maple leaf attached to a stick from a tree. she hasn’t moved much.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Sierra :P

    • tsakhuja

      No way to tell if they’re fertile other than to wait and see if they hatch! It sounds to me like they’re fertile, though, given the amount of time she’s spending laying.

  51. Kathy Regg

    Our Polyphemus caterpillars are now spinning cocoons. We have them in a protective cage in the house and were going to place them outside in the cage in a safe spot and let nature take its course. Is this ok? Since it is still summer here in Montana, will they emerge in two weeks or winter over? Any help you can give would be appreciated. We want to do the right thing for them. Thank you.

  52. Roberta

    Hi there,
    Wanted to gain some more knowledge on my giant silk moth rearing.
    In may my dog caught a female giant silk moth. From my dog playing with her, the wings became damaged. I placed her in a bag and had eggs laid. My eggs all hatched and kept 6 caterpillars. Two just hatched a male and a female in the bathroom. 7/29/13. Around after 10pm 7/30/13, both moths were in different locations in the bathroom (close proximity). The female began laying eggs none stop. Where the mail had been originally (on my window shade/bamboo) there were blood droppings. Do you think they mated? If they mated it would have been within 30mintues of me showering. I’m not sure how long they are suppose to mate? Thank you as of right now in one night I have 40 eggs.

    I placed my female out last night, because I didn’t want her to injure herself and she stayed around my porch and layed more eggs. She is now in the butterfly cage, drying off from the dampness of this morning.

  53. Roberta

    I just wanted to edited a part. The male came out 7/29/13 during the night. The female came out 7/30/13 in the morning around 6am. She began laying eggs that night after 10pm. The male and her had flown to different places while I was showering (which Is why I don’t know if they mated). But there were blood splatter (fresh) where the male had been hanging out. Just as I finished showering, the female began contracting eggs into my sink!

  54. Stacey

    Hi! I just found a female Polyphemus on the sidewalk of my local pharmacy; she’s pretty bird-eaten, and is two-legged, but since I could tell she was huuuuge with eggs I brought her into my car with me for the drive home… In the midst of the drive, she began laying eggs like mad on a plastic bag I’d put under her. She’s now home, in a proper container (bag), and as I’ve raised many insects and moths before but never a Poly, I’m looking forward to the adventure! My only concern is: the first eggs that are stuck to the plastic bag – I had to cut that section of the bag out and put it in with her, as the eggs are glued to it. Will any gases from the plastic affect the eggs/instars in any way? Thank you! :) (And as for mushrooms – envy me. I have a HUGE mycorrhizal patch of yellow Morels in my backyard, we have them every year. LOL! ;) )

    • tsakhuja

      It will be a fun adventure, I can assure you! Plastic shouldn’t be a problem; I store most of my eggs in disposable plastic cups.

      Wow! I’m jealous of your morel patch!

      Good luck!

  55. Roberta

    Update on my eggs to cocoons to giant silk moths! My female never mated with her brother, but did attract and mated 17hrs! at least with another male. She died a day later after mating, is this normal??? she wasn;t damaged or anything and layed a total of 24eggs after mating,

    Beauty mark on moth!!! is it common or not??
    My new female emerge yesterday, she has a white nose! none of my other 4 in all moths had this white spot on their nose. Is this a rare phenomenon?? shes cool, I have her now on day 2 outside, hoping to attract a mate, but it has been raining for now two days. P.S I did take pictures of my new girl, white beauty mark. This was the only moth who never spun a cocoon either.. which was weird. Possibly due to the interruption when the sibling started munching on that leaf.

  56. Alena James

    Hi im 11 and i found a huge polyphemus moth on my front door i let it go but i wanted to know if it was a boy or girl. How can I tell?

    -Thanks

  57. Alena James

    Reply as soon as posible please

  58. Joe

    Just recently at a park a female Polyphemus Moth flew around and my brother caught it. After holding it for a bit I had gathered 33 eggs. I then let them sit about a week and a half in a shot glass. I noticed they started to hatch. So I moved them onto a tree. For some reason the tree had begun to die as did most of the larvae. I moved the last 10 or so caterpillars into a fish tank along with a Jumping spider and many other types of caterpillars. Giving them fresh leaves to feed on each day. Not many survived. In fact I believe only one is still alive. I continue to change out its leaves though. Do you think there is any possible chance this last one might survive if all I’m feeding it is leaves cut from a tree on a daily basis? This is my first time raising one in several years and I’ve never raised one from an egg. In fact the smallest I ever found was a 3rd instar. I’m just curious as to the odds of it surviving to adulthood..

    -Joe

  59. Tiffany

    I just found this awesome caterpillar and have it in a mason jar, should I move it to a bigger container? It seems to be putting silk on the side, is it making a cocoon?

  60. nicky

    Hi (help please!) I have a polyphemus moth caterpillar and i think it is dying. My neighbor found it and we put it in a container with some leaves. It started to make a cocoon in the leaves but then it stopped and started doing this scary, writhing thing and it has black spots on its back like its rotting or growing mold under its skin or something…what do i do? i don’t want it to die

    • tsakhuja

      Unfortunately there’s not much you can do other than wait. It may go on to pupate without a hitch, but it’s also possible it was parasitised by a species of wasp whose larvae feed on unsuspecting caterpillars. Sorry I don’t have better news!

      — Timothy Sakhuja tsakhuja@gmail.com

      On Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 12:01 PM, Breeding Polyphemus Moths

      • nicky

        Hello, I did some research and i think it may have black death. Thank you for the advice, I will definitely wait and see… I’m still a little traumatized because we got 2 tomato hornworms last month that had wasp larva in them and we tried to save them but they died anyway, so when i saw the black spots on this one i was like NOOO!!!!

  61. James

    Hello I recently cought a Polyphemus caterpillar and brought him inside and built a little enclosure. Overnight he spun a caccoon on the ground and not on a branch, is this normal?

  62. sean

    Hello i foud 2 polyphemus cocoons under a oak tree in my yard, it’s only february, so is it safe to keep them inside? Or will the change in temps make them emerge early?

    Thanks

  63. Shane Woodruff

    Tim,
    Do you still sell Giant silk moth coccoons?
    Thanks,
    Shane

  64. Wynne Cuff

    My friend recently found prometheus moth eggs. we took six of them, and i was wondering if there is a way that i could tell if they are fertilized or not.

  65. Garret

    Hi, I found a Polyphemus cocoon yesterday and it hatched a few hours later. It’s a female. I put it outside in a cage with 1″ holes around 12am and when I brought her inside at 6am she was still alone.

    Do you think she mated last night? I thought the male would have stayed with her all day.

    I’ve read lots of conflicting information on breeding these moths online. One site says they readily breed in captivity; another that they are notoriously difficult to breed. Still another says you need fresh oak leaves in her vicinity or she won’t attract a mate.

    What do I believe? Also, what time, in your experience, do Polyphemus moths usually mate?

  66. gina

    We found a polyphemus cocoon in May…it hatched into a female moth. She stayed on our open patio overnight. We thought she did not find a mate because we never saw him. She laid her eggs and we brought them inside…a week later they hatched! We were convinced a male could not find her… but he did. Now we have big, fat caterpillars.

  67. Franklin

    Hey Tim,

    Recently gave me a cocoon. After some research, I concluded that it was a polyphemus. Sure enough, after a several weeks, he finally hatched. It was so cool. I tried to get a time lapse but to my surprise by the time I set it up at the right angle, his wings had bout dried already. After getting some pictures I decided I would let him go the next night. The next evening came around and I took him outside to set him free. Immediately he shot off towards one of my neighbors huge live oak. Today, I’ve been looking around in some of my post oaks and live oaks for some eggs. After about an hour and a half I still didn’t find any to my disappointment. I’ve looked in about five different oak trees even climbing to the very top of one scanning the under side of the leaves as I I climbed up and down. Do you have any suggestions on what part of the the trees to look or where I could find a female moth? I’d prefer to find eggs instead of a cocoon and would rather find instead of buy them. It’d be great if you could reply to this message

    Thanks,

    Franklin

  68. Taylor Schultz

    Hi tim,
    I just found a polyphemus catterpillar in its fifth in star stage the other night out side on my back porch, it kind if slid itsself in a crack on my back patio between two slabs, I rolled it out with a stick because I thought Iit was stuck but it went right back in. Sooo I thought it would go away and be safe that night. But, today I saw it laying in the crack again with a stick I used to roll it out the out of the crack the other day and it spun its *web* (idk what they spin) && it was on the stick and connected under the catterpillar while it was in the crack, the catterpillar had no leaves with it && didn’t seem safe so I removed it from its *web* (it wasn’t spun all the way around only underneath) && rolled it out again with a stick, got a mason jar, put dirt && grass in it with the stick with the *web* on it, && I placed him in there after covering him with leaves all around, I really want to help him survive && bloom into a moth. He is currently out side in the jar the date is september 28th 2014. Please help asap with any advice && did I harm or threat him when removing him from his *web* && will he spin a new one? Your help will be greatly appreciated PLEASE. ♡

  69. mary

    Hi I found a pregnant Polyphemus moth outside during the summer. (It was on the sidewalk, so I caught it in order to keep it from being stepped on.) The moth laid eggs and hatched. I kept two and they cacooned mid august. They have been outside in a container ever since then. One has just emerged from his cacoon, but I don’t know what to do with him. Its almost too cold for him to fly and he hasn’t really moved. Any suggestions to keep the other one from hatching or to help this guy that’s already out?

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