Caterpillars of the World - Singapore
Giant Atlas moth
Attacus atlas   LINNAEUS, 1758
Superfamily - BOMBYCOIDEA
subfamily - SATURNIINAE
Tribe -

Attacus atlas, Singapore Gan Cheong Weei

Attacus atlas is found as various subspecies from India and Sri Lanka eastward to China and across the islands of south-east Asia to Java.
There are 12 Attacus species including wardi from Australia, aurantiacus from Papua New Guinea, selayarensis from Selayar island in Indonesia, and atlas which is found as various subspecies from India and Sri Lanka eastward to China and across the islands of south-east Asia to Java.
The Himalayan species edwardsii and the Malaysian species staudingeri were formerly included in Attacus but are now placed in the genus Archaeoattacus.
This species is found in primary and disturbed tropical rainforest habitats at altitudes between sea level and about 1500m.
The plump larvae of the Giant Atlas moth are huge, growing to almost 5" / 120cm. They feed on a variety of plants including Annona ( Annonaceae ) Citrus ( Rutaceae ), Nephelium ( Sapindaceae ), Cinnamomum ( Lauraceae ) and Guava ( Myrtaceae ). They often move from one plant species to another in the course of their development.
The Giant Atlas is generally recognised as being the largest moth in the world, having a wing area of about 400 sq cms ( 65 sq inches ). It can measure up to 30 cms across the wings, but is beaten in terms of sheer wingspan by a South American moth Thysania agrippina which measures up to 32cms across the wings, although it has a significantly smaller wing area than Attacus atlas.
Despite their huge size and bright colours Atlas moths are remarkably difficult to find in the wild. The disruptive pattern breaks up the moth's outline into irregular shapes which blend well amongst a mix of living and dead foliage. If disturbed from rest Attacus atlas employs an unusual form of defence - it simply drops to the ground and slowly fans the wings. As the wings move, the "snake's head" lobe at the apex of the forewing oscillates. This is a threat gesture which deters predators who "see" a snake instead of a moth.

Attacus atlas, Singapore Gan Cheong Weei



Contact  /  About me

Butterfly-watching holidays

Trip reports

UK latest sightings

Frequently asked questions

Strange but true !

Taxonomy & Evolution



Enemies of butterflies

Survival strategies

Migration & dispersal

Habitats - UK / Palaearctic

Habitats - Tropical rainforests

Butterfly world census

Butterflies of the World :

British Isles


Amazon & Andes

North America

temperate Asia


Indian subcontinent

Malaysia & Borneo

Papua New Guinea

Australia & N.Z.

Insects of Britain & Europe

Insects of Amazonia

Moths of the Andes

Saturniidae - Silkmoths

Caterpillars of the World

Butterfly Photography

Recommended Books



Code of practice

Copyright - text & images

Copyright - text & images






All photographs, artwork, text & website design are the property of Adrian Hoskins ( unless otherwise stated ) and are protected by Copyright. Photographs or text on this website must not be reproduced in part or in whole or published elsewhere without prior written consent of Adrian Hoskins / learnaboutbutterflies.com

Site hosted by Just Host