In the dark of night, across the Mississippi Delta and the eastern Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana eyed-silkmoths rise from the marshes and take wing, looking for mates or a place to deposit their eggs. With flashing eyespots on their hindwings to scare off birds or other predators, the adults of this striking species live only for a few days. They do not eat, but instead live off abundant fat developed as bright-green caterpillars feeding on cordgrass and other plants.

Today, these moths face pressures from many directions. The coastal marshes are disappearing, and may take the caterpillars’ cordgrass with them. The reasons for the disappearance of this ecosystem are numerous: erosion, land subsidence, as well as human-caused climate change, which intensifies flooding, hurricanes and sea-level rise. Oil spills and rice farming can also damage marsh ecosystems, while insecticides used to kill mosquitoes or other insect pests may harm these moths.

Louisiana eyed-silkmoth
Automeris louisiana
2.5–3.5 inches (64–90 mm)
Imperiled (natureserve)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00329553
Louisiana, U.S.