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

Tried and tested, Cariboo Chilcotin residents move beyond 2017 wildfires

It’s been a year of recovery that will continue

Williams Lake Mayor reflects on ups and downs of the 2017 wildfires

A look back at the interviews, the White Lake fire and moving forward

VIDEO: Return of Arts on the Fly resounding success

After a two-year absence, the popular two-day music in Horsefly, B.C. went off smoothly

Quesnel RCMP capture suspect after July 18 B&E, theft

Local business Bumper to Bumper was broken into in the early hours on Wednesday

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Quesnel, Williams Lake

Environment Canada issues storm warning for large hail, strong wind and heavy rain in the Cariboo

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Trump slams Federal Reserve rate hikes

Fed raised benchmark rate for a second time this year in June, and projects two more hikes to come

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

UPDATED: 1,500 residents on evacuation alert as Peachland under state of emergency

The Mount Eneas wildfire has forced an evacuation alert of 596 properties

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

B.C. city wants pot banned from ALR

Mayor and council are concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Most Read