ATTACUS ATLAS CATERPILLAR (front view)

Johan  Nijenhuis

Joined August 2008

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Artist's Description

PHOTO MADE:07/23/2010
CAMERA:LUMIX FZ 28
LENS:LUMIX CLOSE UP LENS DMW-LC 55
PLACE:LUTTELGEEST THE NETHERLANDS
LOCATION:THE ORCHIDEENHOEVE

Atlas moths are predominantly tawny to maroon in colour with roughly triangular, diaphanous “eyes” on both forewing and hindwing, bordered in black. The purpose of these dramatic, gossamer portals is not clear, but they are thought to play a role in predator avoidance. Their bodies are hairy and disproportionately small compared to their wings. Patterns and colouration vary among the many described subspecies. Male Atlas moths are distinguished from females by their smaller size, more tapered wings, and larger, bushier antennae. Neither sex possess fully-formed mouthparts and therefore do not feed; throughout their 1-2 week adult life they survive entirely on larval fat reserves that they build up while they are caterpillars.

Females are sexually passive, releasing powerful pheromones which males detect and home in on with the help of chemoreceptors located on their large feathery antennae. Males may thus be attracted from several kilometres downwind. Atlas moths are unsteady fliers and the female does not stray far from the location of her discarded chrysalis: she seeks a perch where the air currents will best carry her pheromones.

Once mated the female lays a number of spherical eggs 2.5 mm in diameter on the undersides of leaves. Dusty-green caterpillars hatch after about two weeks and feed voraciously on the foliage of certain citrus and other evergreen trees.The caterpillars are adorned with fleshy spines along their backs which are covered in a waxy white substance. After reaching a length of about 115 millimetres (4.5 in), the caterpillars pupate within papery cocoon interwoven into desiccated leaves. The adult moths emerge after about four weeks

Artwork Comments

  • DutchLumix
  • LynEvans
  • Lindie Allen
  • Karen  Moore
  • Ray Clarke
  • Jo Nijenhuis
  • simonaman
  • AndreaEL
  • Cat2be
  • Bob Daalder
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