The Io Moth, 12 June 2013

Automeris io, the Io moth;
Lowndes county, Georgia (12 June 2013).

With an adult wingspan ranging between two and three-and-a-half inches (or so), the Io moth, Automeris io, is an extremely recognizable and distinctive species throughout much of the eastern United States. It’s also a sexually dimorphic species. Whereas females (such as this one) are somewhat brownish, males will sport more of a light-yellow basal tone on the wings. Both males and females, however, are adorned by brilliantly contrasted “eye” spots on their rear wings.

Interestingly, if and when you see an adult Io moth, recognize that you are witnessing the end of the creature’s life. Once Io moths emerge from their cocoons, the sole name of the game is reproduction. They don’t even eat anything as adults. They simply flutter about, look for a mate, make babies, lay eggs, and then hang out until they die, often perching near patios or yard shrubbery in my neck of the woods. I suspect this big female had already laid her eggs; she was particularly lethargic and “cooperative” for these photographs. Heh.

God speed, lady. You did alright.

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