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

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

Editorial: Go out and play

How much is too much screen time?

Fort St. James businesses get into the Christmas spirit with decorating contest

Northland Automotive Ltd. won first place in Fort St. James Chamber of… Continue reading

Couple selling fake jewelry in Fraser Lake, say RCMP

A man and woman have been defrauding local residents, offering fake jewelry for sale

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Most Read