Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Io Moth Rescue

My little mixed-breed dog was pretending to be a terrier.  He plowed through the Cosmos and Coreopsis looking for a rat. Alas, in the process, he trampled a beautiful Io Moth.  The moth tried to scare away my dog by displaying his eyespots - his only defense.  The behavior was actually helpful because the display allowed me to spot the moth and remove him from danger!   Automeris io is in the family of Giant Silk Moths, Saturniidae.  They make silk cocoons in the leaf litter, so this unfortunate male (males are yellow, females are ruddier) may have recently emerged.  The caterpillars use many kinds of trees for food - probably oak in my yard.  The adults exist only to reproduce and do not eat.  This fellow did have some wing damage, but he was able to fly from my hand and take cover in a shrub.  With his wings folded, he looked like a yellowed leaf and was well-hidden.  I love moths.