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Atlas moths are among the largest moths in the world and found in the forests of Southeast Asia. Their wingspans can measure over 11 inches. Females are a fair bit larger and heavier than males.
Atlas moths are sedentary in the day. They fly in the night seeking mates. They are supposedly unsteady fliers and the female does not move far from the location of her discarded cocoon. She usually finds a perch where the air currents will best spread her pheromones.
Females release powerful pheromones which males detect and home in on with the help of chemoreceptors located on their antennae. Males have broad feathered antenna when compared to females and are often able to pick up female pheromones from several kilometers away.
An adult female will lay between 200-300 spherical eggs about 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves. Caterpillars hatch about two weeks later and feed on the foliage of citrus, cinnamon, guava, and mango trees.
The caterpillars eat for about 35-45 days and get to about 4.5 inches in length. Then they pupate within a cocoon interwoven into dry leaves. The adult moths emerge four weeks later.
Adults lacking mouths live off fat they accumulated as caterpillars. The moth’s proboscis, which in other species of butterflies and moths is used to drink nectar, is tiny and non functional. As adults they live about a week and have only a few days to find partners and mate before they die.