|Atlas Moth – Attacus atlas
Family Saturniidae – Giant Silkworm and Royal Moths. Range: Southeast Asia
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Captive live moths photographed at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois.
The Atlas moth is classified as a giant silkmoth in the family Saturniidae. Found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, Atlas moths are the largest moths in the world in terms of total wing surface area (c. 400 square cm or 65 square inches). Their wingspan is also among the largest, from 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). Females are appreciably larger and heavier than the male. The Chinese call this the "snake's head moth", referring to apical extension of the forewing, which bears an uncanny resemblance to a snake's head seen in silhouette.
Neither sex possess fully-formed mouthparts and therefore do not feed; they survive entirely on larval fat reserves throughout their 1-2 week adult life.
Females are sexually passive, releasing powerful pheromones which males detect and home in on with the help of chemoreceptors located on their large plumose antennae. Males may thus be attracted from several kilometers downwind. Atlas moths are unsteady fliers and the female does not stray far from the location of her discarded chrysalis: she seeks a perch where the air currents will best carry her pheromones.
Once mated, the female lays a number of spherical eggs 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves. Dusty-green caterpillars hatch after about two weeks and feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus and other trees. The caterpillars are adorned with fleshy spines along their backs which are covered in a waxy white substance. After reaching a length of about 115 mm (4.5 inches), the caterpillars pupate, emerging as adults after approximately four weeks. – adapted from Wikipedia
Atlas Moth – wings, underside
Another giant silkmoth: Polyphemus Moth Adult
Order Lepidoptera: Moths. Unlike the butterflies, moths are usually nocturnal. Many moths and their caterpillars are major agricultural pests in large parts of the world. Moths in the family Tineidae are commonly regarded as pests because their larvae eat fabrics, clothes and blankets made from natural fibers such as wool or silk. Moths in the genus Farinalis feed on stored grain, flour, corn meal and other milled grain products.
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