Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Night Visitor at Le Ripe

Giant Peacock Moth

Great peacock moth, giant emperor moth, Viennese emperor, the Saturnia pyri, native to Europe: this Saturniid moth is the largest European moth. Its wingspan can reach 20cm.

We have been honoured, over the last few evenings, by a giant peacock moth frequenting our external lights; perhaps a little less honoured to learn that in its caterpillar manifestation it was probably eating our pear, apple, cherry and almond tree leaves.
Our visitor's wingspan is almost 14cm (I measured it). Judging from information found on the internet it might be a male, which are smaller and have pectinate antenna (which means they look like double combs).
The Saturnia pyri caterpillar partially compensates for its voracious fruit-leaf appetite by being particularly handsome.

It appears that Van Gogh also admired the peacock moth.

For much more on this fascinating insect, see Natura Mediterraneo (Italian) or Learn about Butterflies (English).

1 comment:

  1. Well spotted,and how interesting to have seen this giant peacock moth (Saturnia Pyri)flying around the external lights at Le Ripe.Very well photographed,both the visiting moth and Van Gogh's paintings of it,which makes a very interesting link.This great moth can,when in the caterpillar stage, consume large amounts of fruit tree leaves which somewhat detracts from the appeal of the very handsome fellow which later emerges.


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