A polyphemus moth, usually active at night, was spotted in broad daylight in Victoria on Friday, June 26. (Chantal Contorines photo)

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

Chantel Contorines was walking with her daughter, Sofia, when the nine-year-old spotted an unusually large insect lying the ground in a Victoria parking lot.

“I did a double-take because I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said the Victoria resident. Sitting on the ground was a moth the size of her hand, fluttering its wings. “It looked like a tarantula had mated with a moth.”

After quickly snapping a photo, the pair went back to their car outside HomeSense along Cloverdale Avenue and took a closer look. Immediately, they squirmed at the sight of the fuzzy antennae, plump body and large legs.

READ MORE: Baby otter recovering in Metchosin after mom killed by motorist

Royal BC Museum confirmed the duo spotted a polyphemus moth, one of the largest insects in B.C. According to entomology researcher Claudia Copley, it was clearly a male, as the feathery antennae are used to pick up pheromones from females.

“[They’re] not often seen because they are active as adult moths at night,” Copley explained. “Sometimes they turn up at people’s porch light and then are reported to me here at the museum. The wings are beautiful, especially the top view.”

Polyphemus moths are known for the fake eye spots on their wings that can startle predators with their owl-like facade. Most larvae eat foliage from broad-leaved trees and shrubs, including birch, hickory, maple, oak, willow, grape and a handful of rose-type bushes. By the time they become adults, they only mate.

Notably, Copley said these moths are completely harmless.

“As long as it lands on my child and not on me, I’ll be alright,” joked Contorines. “It’s a beautifully ugly creature.”

ALSO READ: Rare spider sneaks out of hiding in Langford


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

AnimalsRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Businesses mixed on downtown temporary washroom

Ladysmith Health Food Stores launches petition against the temporary washroom

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Cheri Mactier celebrates 20 years in Ladysmith real estate

After 20 years in town, Mactier’s daughter, Brianne Mactier is joining the family business

Exhibit showcases one side of artist’s wide-ranging personality

Skagfeld takes something from all of her life experiences

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

Large missing python found ssssafe in Victoria after being on the lam for weeks

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Most Read