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

Resident thinks Furney Place could potentially be a dangerous road, wants cement barriers installed

“I acknowledge that although speed is not a factor in my concern, aged drivers and distractions are”

‘Out of the Interior: Survival of the Small-town Cinema in British Columbia’ is coming to Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill

On Saturday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m., ‘Out of the Interior’ documentary will screen at Gate House Theatre.

North Island Rising: Political polarization

This fall there will be a minimum of four candidates wanting your vote here on the North Island.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The last walk together

“I would give almost anything to be able to have another walk together”

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read