Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Moth for Central Park list and a PS

Polyphemus Moth just before release in Central Park

The newly-emerged moth

The cocoon

The following e-mail, and the photos above, arrived in my mail-box yesterday from Mike Freeman, a Central Park friend I hadn't seen for a long time:

Hi, Marie.

This past February [2009] I found a cocoon dangling from a tree that was 75 yards NW of the Central Park tennis courts. The cocoon was about six feet off the ground and in plain sight. I decided that the moth's chances for survival were higher with me than where it was. I built a wire mesh cage for it and left it out on my 8th floor terrace, which faces North on 100th Street between Columbus and Central Park West. Based on some brief research on the Web, I concluded that the cocoon belonged to a Polyphemus Moth. On Sunday, June 7th I discovered that the moth had emerged from its cocoon. I snapped some pictures. I let the moth cling to my five-year-old daughter Victoria's hand. And then we promptly carried the moth (in a shoe box) to the park where we released it. We let it crawl out of the box onto a tree in a secluded area between the north ballfields and the Pool. This moth was a female.

PS from Marie: I agree that by taking the cocoon home Mike increased its chances for survival. By keeping it in a cage on his terrace for the months until the moth was ready to emerge the cocoon was protected from its natural predators, birds and raccoons, for instance.