Nanaimo restaurant owner John Vassilopoulos mistook this large moth for a small bird when he first spotted it outside his restaurant late last Saturday. He placed a loonie beside it for scale. (John Vassilopoulos photo)

Massive moth touches down on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo restaurant owner initially mistakes insect for a bird

It’s not often that restaurant owners will openly discuss bugs at their establishments, but when John Vassilopoulos, owner of the Bold Knight restaurant, spotted a massive moth hunkered down on his doorstep, he saw a subject for a good social media post.

Vassilopoulos noticed the insect last Saturday just around closing time when he stepped out of the restaurant.

Its size was so impressive he set a loonie down next to creature for scale and snapped a photo of it.

“I’d say easily, when the wings were all the way out, it was almost the size of the palm of my hand,” he said. “When I walked out of the restaurant as I was leaving I thought it was a small bird sitting there. I thought, ‘What’s a bird doing out this late at night?’ and then I went, whoa, and I had to take a photo.”

The creature Vassilopoulos encountered has large, reddish wings with distinctive markings.

Staffan Lindgren, former professor of entomology at University of Northern B.C., who has a PhD in entomology from Simon Fraser University and is the president of non-profit organization Nature Nanaimo, identified the moth as a member of the Hyalophora species, which belongs to the giant silk moth family that includes the eastern luna moth.

Hyalophora euryalus or ceanothus silkmoth is part of the Saturnidae family and is widespread on B.C.’s south coast.

“The adults are seen in late spring, early summer when they are attracted to sources of light,” Lindgren said in an e-mail. “As they sit still during the day, people often don’t notice them in spite of their size.”

The moths’ wingspans can range up to nearly 13 centimetres.

Tim Ebata, B.C. government forest health officer, also identified the moth from its photo as “a lovely example of a Saturn moth.”

“These insects are native, they have very large, often conspicuous caterpillars that are solitary feeders,” Ebata said in an e-mail. “Some are pests – like tomato hornworm – while most are just part of the insect community and have no commercial impact.”

He said Saturnidae represent a huge family of large moths.

“Sometimes nature is just surprising when you see the size and the sheer magnitude,” said Vassilopoulos.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Person extracted from vehicle accident in Cameron Lake

A person has been extracted today from a reported vehicle accident in… Continue reading

Seeing double, the trials and tribulations of twins

BIG READ: Three Vancouver Island mothers share their experiences with multiple births

Learn about Port Alberni’s mayoral candidates with new film series

Alberni Valley filmmaker Dallas Dalziel discusses key issues with candidates

City of Port Alberni issues water quality alert for Kitsuksis Creek area

Kitsuksis Creek residents urged to use alternate drinking water source

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

Most Read