162. The Largest Moth


Atlas moth is the largest moth in the world. It is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia. Its total wing area is 400 square centimeters or 65 square inches. Its wing span is 25 to 30 cm or 10 to 12 inches. Females are larger and heavier than males.

It is named either after the Titan in Greek mythology or after the map-like patterns found on its wings. It is also known as the “snake’s head moth” since the apical extensions of the fore wings resemble the heads of snakes.

This moth is brownish maroon in color. It has triangular diaphanous eyes, bordered in black, on all the four wings. This might be to ward off all the predators.

Its body is hairy and small compared the large wings. Male Atlas is smaller in size, has more tapered wings and larger and bushier antennae.

Neither the male nor the female have fully developed mouth parts. So they do not feed through out their adult lives of 1 to 2 weeks! They survive entirely on the fat reserves built during their caterpillar stage.

Females release powerful pheromones and attract the males several kilometer away, downwind. They are unsteady fliers.

In India Atlas moth is grown for its silk. Unlike the silk produced by the silk worms, Atlas moth silk is secreted as broken strands. This brown wool like silk Fagara is much more durable than silk.

In Taiwan the Atlas moth cocoons are employed as purses!

Visalakshi Ramani

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2 Responses to 162. The Largest Moth

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