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

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

Signs up at Hope Secondary School inform visitors that the school is a closed campus during the coronavirus pandemic. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Fourth COVID-19 exposure reported at Hope Secondary School

Nov. 27 exposure two days after another exposure at the school, with five exposures total across SD78

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

Harrison mayor Leo Facio, Kent mayor Sylvia Pranger and organizer Rose Tustian (far right) at the Salvation Army kettle in Agassiz in this 2017 photo. (Contributed Photo/Rose Tustian)
Local Salvation Army kettle campaign kicks off Saturday

Municipal, provincial dignitaries to volunteer

Students at the Chilliwack campus of the University of the Fraser Valley. (Darren MacDonald/ UFV)
UFV asking students to voluntarily report COVID cases and exposures to the school

With COVID cases rising and Fraser Health struggling to keep up, students are asked to help

Bev Kennedy of the Agassiz-Harrison Historical Society board of directors demonstrates tongue-in-cheek how to hold a tea cup for guests at the fifth annual Dickens Tea fundraiser at Cheam Village Saturday afternoon.
Un-Dickens Tea on tap for Agassiz Harrison Museum

Deadline for order placement is Nov. 28.

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)
COVID-19 tickets: No, RCMP aren’t checking vehicle occupancies, restaurant tables

Enforcement about education, not punishment says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read