World's Largest Moths hatch at Berkeley Castle Butterfly House
|Published: 25th September 2011 13:31|
The Tropical Butterfly House at Berkeley Castle closes on Thursday (29th September 2011) for the winter, but there has been excitement there this week as an Atlas moths has hatched from a chrysalis that has been sitting dormant in the nursery since April.
The chrysalis are bought in at the beginning of the season, and none of the first batch had hatched, apart from this one that appeared last Sunday (18th September).
Staff knew that the butterflies were alive, but no matter what efforts they made they would not emerge. A subsequent delivery of chrysalis resulted in five Atlas Moths hatching in the Summer, but none of the first batch . . . . until last weekend!
Here's the science bit . . . . .
The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) is considered to be the largest moth in the world and is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia, and common across the Malay archipelago.
Their total wing surface area can be upwards of 400 square cm or 65 square inches). Their wingspans are also amongst the largest, from 25-30 cm (10-12 inches).
Atlas moths are said to be named after their map-like wing patterns and the extension of the forewing, bears a resemblance to a snake's head.
Atlas moths are predominantly tawny to maroon in colour with roughly triangular, diaphanous "eyes" on both forewing and hindwing, bordered in black. Their bodies are hairy and disproportionately small compared to their wings.
Neither sex possess fully-formed mouthparts 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. Atlas moths are unsteady fliers and the do not stray far. Their sole purpose of life as a moth is to breed.
The Butterfly House is open this Sunday (25th September) and then Thursday (29th September, so if you want to catch a glimpse of the largest moth in the world, get down to Berkeley now this week.