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

Harrison Festival Society: Jill Barber up next in Still Running Concert series

Three-time JUNO nominee is set to perform in Agassiz on August 15

Seabird Island COVID-19 ‘scare’ has passed, Chief states

Reaffirmation comes during Chief Harris’s weekly video address

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

Firefighters bring Sts’ailes FSR fire under control

Blaze held at bay after burning 15 hectares of land

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

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

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

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

Most Read