The Giant Atlas Moth, Attacus atlas, is in terms of overall wing surface area, the largest known species of moth on earth.The Giant Atlas Moth, is in terms of overall wing surface area, the largest known species of moth on earth. Click To Tweet
The females of this particular insect are appreciably larger than the males, with an average wingspan of as much as 10 in (25 cm).
Attacus atlas is native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia and is especially common across the Malay Peninsula. Their name comes from the Titan of Greek mythology.
Giant Atlas Moth Physical Characteristics
The moth is predominantly tawny to maroon in color, with roughly triangular “eyes” on both forewings and hind wings.
Fine hair covers their bodies which are quite small in proportion to their wings.
Those same markings on their wings, resembling eyes, have also led to the moth’s popularity as “snake-head moths”. The uncanny markings truly resemble the head of a snake as you can see from the photo below.
Giant Atlas Moth Sexual Dimorphism
The males of Attacus atlas are notably smaller in size than the females, a trait known as sexual dimorphism. Here at Our Breathing Planet, we write about many species that have this condition, for example, Cecropia Moth, Zebra Duiker, North Sulawesi Babirusa, Luzon Peacock Swallowtail, and many more.
Curiously, as adults, neither Giant Atlas Moth sex possesses a fully formed mouth.
Unfortunately, the adult lifespan of the moth lasts for only 1-2 weeks once they open their wings. During this time they subsist entirely on fat reserves which they accumulated during their larval stage. The larvae feed primarily on the foliage of citrus and evergreen trees.
In India, the silk produced by the Atlas Moth is highly prized. The brown, wool-like silk, or fagara, has high durability. Empty Atlas Moth cocoons are sometimes used as purses in Taiwan.