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The Hercules Caterpillar  I by Paul Davis

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The amazing and overly huge, cumbersome caterpillar that turns into the world’s largest moth (by wing span and area).

The moths are almost a foot (up to 30cm) across the wings and are peaceful giants. The caterpillars are just plain hungry and look as evil as they can and as least tasty as they can!!!

They do a good job!

This is as they are, no colours, no additives, no after effects, they’re this ugly and this spiky!!

Often called the Atlas moth in error, the Hercules (Cosinocera hercules) is the largest moth species in the world. With a wingspan of roughly 30 cm (one foot), it is a special treat to find one in their rainforest home. The handsome brown wings of both males and females have triangular transparent ‘windows’ and a white triangle edge looks as if it was dusted onto the wings. The males wings have long tapered tails while the females wings lack the tails but they are larger in overall area. The adult female emerges from the chrysalis without mouthparts as her brief life does not include feeding. After she emerges and her wings unfold and dry, she will emit pheromones to attract a male. After mating, she will fly away, lay her eggs and die shortly after.

The caterpillar is equally impressive at 12 cm (almost 5 inches) long and bearing long yellow spikes from each segment of its pudgy, pale green body. A common tree species, the Bleeding Heart (Homalanthus novoguineensis) is the food plant of the Hercules Moth.


Viewed 652 times on 7/11/09

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  • Hollie Nass
    Hollie Nassalmost 6 years ago

    Awesome capture! & thanx for the info! My daughter is obsessed with caterpillars & moths.. she’d love to see this monster!

  • Thanks for the comment. They are huge – at full size just before they pupate, they’re as big as an adult hand!!!

    – Paul Davis

  • down23
    down23almost 6 years ago

    Nice shot!

  • Thanks down23 :)

    – Paul Davis

  • reflector
    reflectoralmost 6 years ago

    An awesome find, excellently captured !

  • Thanks for the reflector. I’m, always hunting for insects, reptiles etc – and I so rarely find them. But when this one popped up my heart nearly stopped!!!

    – Paul Davis

  • Anna D'Accione
    Anna D'Accionealmost 6 years ago

    Great capture, and good info. Congratulations

  • Thanks Anna for the lovely comment.

    – Paul Davis

  • JanT
    JanTalmost 6 years ago

    30cm- wing span?! Amazing. This is just a remarkable shot, and doesn’t look evil at this size.

  • Thanks Jan… they’re certainly not evil… But I am yet to see and capture the hercules moth :)

    – Paul Davis

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