Physical characteristics: The atlas moth is one of the largest moths with a wingspan of 8 inches (200 millimeters). Their plump bodies are very hairy. Each wing is reddish brown and has a single triangle-shaped spot that does not have any scales and is clear. The tips of the forewings are curved. The antennae of the males are larger and more feathery than the females. The caterpillars are bluish green with shades of pink. They pupate in cocoons made up of broken strands of silk.
Geographic range: This species is found in the tropical regions of Asia, India, and southeast Asia.
Habitat: Atlas moths live in habitats from the lowlands to upper mountain forests.
Atlas moth larvae feed on many kinds of trees, including Jamaican cherry, soursop, cinnamon, rambutan, guava, and citrus. The moths lack developed mouthparts and do not feed. (James Allen/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
Diet: The larvae feed on many kinds of trees, including Jamaican cherry, soursop, cinnamon, rambutan, guava, and citrus. The moths lack developed mouthparts and do not feed.
Behavior and reproduction: Atlas moths are attracted to lights at night. Females attract males with pheromones. Males can detect the faintest traces of these pheromones from as far as three miles (4.8 kilometers) away.
Females lay a few to several hundred eggs on the undersides of leaves and die soon afterward. The eggs hatch in about two weeks, depending on temperature. The pupal stage lasts about one month.
Atlas moths and people: The caterpillars are raised commercially, and the adults are sold as specimens to collectors. Their silk cocoons are used to make coin purses in Taiwan.
Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ■
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