World's Largest Moth

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is a large moth found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, southern China, common across the Malay archipelago, Thailand and Indonesia. Atlas moths are said to be named after either the Titan of Greek mythology, or their map-like wing patterns. Atlas moths are considered as the largest moths in the world in terms of total wing surface area (upwards of c. 400 square cm or 65 square inches). Their wingspans are also amongst the largest, from 25-30 cm (10-12 inches).

In India, Atlas moths are cultivated for their silk in a non-commercial capacity. Unlike the silk produced by the Silkworm moth (Bombyx mori), Atlas moth silk is secreted as broken strands. This brown, wool-like silk is thought to have greater durability and is known as fagara. Atlas moth cocoons have been employed as purses in Taiwan.

The females are appreciably larger and heavier. Their bodies are hairy and disproportionately small compared to their wings. Patterns and colouration vary among the many described subspecies. Male Atlas moths are distinguished from females by their smaller size, more tapered wings, and larger, bushier antennae. Neither sex possess fully-formed mouth parts and therefore do not feed; throughout their 1-2 week adult life they survive entirely on larval fat reserves that they build up while they are caterpillars.