WHAT IS THE WORLD'S LARGEST MOTH?

What is the world's largest moth? - Nevit Dilmen


For those of us who live in Europe, large moths are two a penny. In England and northern Europe the Deaths-Head hawk-moth - Acherontia atropos is the largest species you are likely to encounter, but if you make you way down to the Mediterranean then with a bit of luck you will happen across Europe's largest moth - the Giant Peacock Moth - Saturnia pyri.

Atlas moth - Sachin Palkar
However, neither of these species can hold an candle to the world's largest moth Attacus atlas, a large saturniid moth native to the tropical and subtropical forests of southeast Asia, and also found across the Malay archipelago.

Commonly known as the Atlas moth, its wing span is approximately twice that of our European giants. The record is currently held at an impressive 11 inches, although scientists believe it is possible for 12 inch specimens to exist! They even hold the record for having the largest wing surface area which can reach upwards of 62 sq inches!

Female Atlas moths are considerably larger and heavier. Strangely, Atlas moths do not have mouths and therefore are unable to eat during their time as an adult. Instead they survive just long enough to mate relying solely on the fat reserves built up as a caterpillar. Sadly these beautiful creatures can survive no more than a week or so once they have hatched from their pupae.

In India, Atlas moths are cultivated for their silk however this only in a non-commercial capacity. Atlas moth silk is secreted as broken strands, but it is thought to have greater durability than silk moth silk. Atlas moth silk is known as fagara.

Atlas moths are said to be named after either the Titan of Greek mythology, or their map-like wing patterns.

Nevit Dilmen file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Sachin Palkar File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

For related articles click onto the following links:
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THE WORLD'S LARGEST BUTTERFLY - Ornithoptera alexandrae
What is the World's Largest Moth?

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