Massive Imperial Moths are yellow and purple members of a family known for its giants.
Few moths have both the size and colors of the Imperial Moth. That said, the two genders tend to have different ratios of yellow coloring making it possible to think a male and female are different species. Females are more yellow, while males have larger blotches of pink/purple (mauve) on their wings. Legs are mostly covered in purple hairs. Large black eyes are surrounded by a dense bush of yellow hairs.
As members of the Giant Silkworm Moth family, Imperial Moths are relatives to the largest known moths in North America. Their caterpillar forms a hard, brown chrysalis when ready to pupate. In fact, the majority of the Imperial Moth's life is spent pupating, so caterpillars spend a lot of time looking for a safe place to plant themselves as they are utterly defenseless against predators during that time. Their caterpillars are green or brown and quite spiky. White spots with black rings around them line the sides of their bodies, one per 'segment'. They feast on pine needles, oak, sweetgum and maple leaves. Once the Imperial Moth actually pupates into a winged adult, it has a rather short life span. In fact, adults do not eat. Instead, they focus all energy and attention on mating before dying.
A first generation of adults emerges in early spring giving time for a possible second generation to arise later in the summer in warmer climates.
Imperial Moth adults are extremely attracted to lights, which is causing their numbers to decline. They become too visible to predators, like birds, in the light and are eaten, sometimes before having a chance to breed. Artificial illumination at night, like exterior house lights, street lamps and urban light pollution, are unfortunately creating swaths of habitat that are now void of Imperial Moths.
Scientific Name: Eacles imperialis
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 80mm to 175mm (3.12in to 6.83in)
Colors: yellow, pink, purple, gray, orange, brown, white
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Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.