Saturday, January 14, 2017

Visitor at the Door

Yesterday, my wife and I returned from a walk on the beach to find a large, attractive moth on our screen door; initially mistaken for a dead leaf, the moth had leathery looking red-brown wings.  Touching its wing to encourage it to fly off, I uncovered a hind wing with a large eyespot; of course, the other hind wing had a matching eye.

After some research, we found that it was a female Io moth (the male is yellow in color) and that most species are found in Central and South America.  Seven species inhabit North America, from southeastern Canada to the Gulf Coast.  Each species seems to have favorite plants for laying its eggs and those in South Florida may use red mangroves.  The large eyespots are thought to discourage attack by predators and the larvae of Io moths are known to sting potential enemies.

Our visitor was still clinging to the screen this afternoon and she is amazingly tolerant of my touch.  Perhaps she will move on during the night or maybe our screen door is her last stand.  In either case, I'm glad she stopped by.