Giant Moth that Cannot Eat

Imagine seeing what looks like a bird flying towards you, only to find out that it is actually a moth. It is amazing to discover that the world’s largest moth has an incredible wingspan of up to 12” across and a body that can reach close to 12” long. This unbelievable creation is called the Atlas Moth. With such a gargantuan size, it could be quite scary to see an insect the size of an Encyclopedia flying through the sky. Add to that, this large and beautiful moth has unusual color markings to add to its uniqueness. The wing extensions and coloring closely resemble snake heads. This could possibly be a self defense method, but it has not been proven. They do also use a spray that comes from there abdomen that can shoot a defensive irritant as much as two feet, if they are threatened. But these are only some of the things that make this moth an interesting insect.

As the moth begins its life as a caterpillar, it too is rather large at around 1” thick and 5” long. They feed heavily to grow and ready themselves to pupate into a cocoon. They make this cocoon out of silk and leaves. As a matter of fact these Atlas Moth Cocoons are actually sought after to be used as small purses in some Asian countries.

After four to six weeks the caterpillar comes out of the cocoon as a moth. And it’s a good thing it did all of that eating as a caterpillar, because now as an Atlas Moth, it will never eat again. They do not have functioning mouths, so they can’t eat. Therefore they rely on the stored food they gorged on while still a caterpillar. So at this point the Atlas Moth’s lifespan is limited, with approximately only two days to survive. With only two days to live, there main point of existence is to find a female to mate with. This is facilitated by pheromones excreted from the female, so the male can find her. She usually finds a place to land where the wind can blow the attractant to her male suitor. But, being so large the male is not a very good flyer. So this only makes it more difficult for the male Atlas Moth to find his female counterpart. Once he finds her, he latches on in order to fertilize her eggs. After only two days of life expectancy and desperately seeking his reproductive mate, he usually fertilizes, falls off and dies. The female then finds a good hiding spot to lay her eggs, on the underside of leaves. To protect the potential young, they spray their own strong smelling and irritating pest control on their eggs, to keep away predators such as ants. However, once the eggs are laid, the female is also at the end if her very short lifespan. Just like the male, she also dies, leaving another batch of eggs to continue this unusual and short lifespan as such a beautiful insect.

Since Atlas Moths live primarily in Asia, China, India and Indonesia, you most likely will only have the privilege of seeing one in a zoo. If your timing is just right you can spot one of these monster size moths.


One of the largest moths that inhabit our area is the Imperial Moth at a width of six inches. However this moth is not considered a Nashville Pest Control Issue, unless you consider damage to vegetation or the sting the caterpillar can inflict. As always, be hesitant to touch an unknown insect, as you do not know what they are capable of. Call Certified Pest Control of Nashville if you suspect any pest or infestation issue, so we can properly define a treatment method and explain the benefits of an affordable yearly pest protection plan.