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Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Imperial Moth



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Image Credit: Angelique T. from MD
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Image Credit: Emily M. from KY
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Image Credit: Tony M. from Autryville, NC
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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Corey K. from northwest OH
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Image Credit: Timothy D.
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Image Credit: Chris O. taken in Dumfries, VA
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Image Credit: Corey K. from northwest OH
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Image Credit: Carolyn F., taken near Plain, WI
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Image Credit: Richard R. from Carrollton, VA
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Massive Imperial Moths are yellow and purple members of a family known for its giants.



Updated: 09/21/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Few moths have both the size and colors of the Imperial Moth. That said, the two sexes 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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Patterned insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Saturniidae
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          Genus: Eacles
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            Species: imperialis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Eacles imperialis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 80mm to 175mm (3.14" to 6.88")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, pink, purple, gray, orange, brown, white
Descriptors: flying, large, feathery, furry, eyespot
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 80mm and 175mm
Lo: 80mm
Md: 127.5mm
Hi: 175mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
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Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Imperial Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Imperial Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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