10 Largest Moths in the World

Largest Moths
Photo by Gary Yost

Moths are among essential pollinators in nature. Lepidoptera is the insect order for both Moths and butterflies, with moths accounting for 89-94 percent of the species. There are a few superficial differences you may check for to tell if you’re looking at a moth or a butterfly.

The antennae are varied in form, having club-shaped antennae with bulbs on the ends. Moths have a feathered appearance with a jagged edge.

Although many moths have lovely colors, butterflies are typically more vibrant. When you touch a moth, it sheds scales that seem like powdered material on your fingertips.

This shedding is normal and does not affect the moth’s lifespan. Moths typically fly at night. However, some do so during the day.

Moths are a vital insect in ecosystems, pollinating more than every other insect. However, they can cause issues in agriculture.

Farmers employ pesticides and herbicides to kill the moths and safeguard their crops. The following are ten of the world’s largest moths, estimated by their wingspan.

1. Agapema Polyphemus and Agapema Oculea

The Agapema family contains two species that have wingspans of nearly 6 inches. The eyespots of the Agapema oculea are orange, blue, and black.

There is a marginal black line, and the body may have a yellow or red hue. The Agapema polyphemus is reddish to yellowish-brown in color, with pink, brown, or rust patterns on the underside.

Agapena oculea has a single mating season in June-August and thrives in oak woods and mixed forests in the southwestern United States.

2. Giant Silk Moths

Among the Largest moths that produce silk are:

  • The polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
  • Luna moth (Actias luna)
  • Columbia silk moth (Hyalophora Columbia)
  • Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

The polyphemus moth has shades of brown, orange, and yellow formulating “eye spots,” the luna moth has bright green with pink/brown spots and tails on the hind wings.

The Columbia silk moth has dull, waxy green with rows of orange, yellow, or blue adorning the wings, and the cecropia moth has a brighter color.

Each of them generates silk, which is gathered and used to make silk in Asia and South America. The hues range from white silk to light brown, silvery brown, and brown.

3. Royal Walnut Moth

The Royal Walnut Moth wingspan is 6.14 inches, and the larva is known as the hickory horned devil. This moth is endemic to the United States Southeast areas.

The moth’s wings are grey-green with orange striping and a pattern of yellow spots. The body is orange, with tiny yellow streaks running through it. This is a significant transition from the moth’s caterpillar color of blue-green.

These moths, which only have one generation per season, prefer to deposit their eggs on the leaves of walnut, butternut, or hickory trees.

They will also utilize persimmon, sweetgum, and sumac leaves. According to some experts, the larvae develop quicker and bigger on persimmon leaves.

4. Imperial Moth

The Eagles imperialis comes fourth on our list of Largest moths, often known as the imperial moth, is predominantly yellow with pink/purple-brownish patches and dots.

Its wingspan can reach 6 7/8 inches. The grownups do not consume food. On the same 24-hour cycle, they take flight after sunrise and mate after midnight.

Females deposit their eggs on leaves, sometimes as a single egg, sometimes in clusters of 2-5 eggs. The eggs hatch in around two weeks.

In addition, Imperial moths is distributed across the United States and Canada. The majority of Imperial Moths emerge in late summer. This timing aids with their natural protection against predators.

Their colors help them to mix in with falling leaves, which frequently have similar hues. The moth is usually seen among the leaves on the forest floor.

5. Cecropia Silkmoth

A lovely species with red, white, and yellow wings, black “eye” markings, and a frosted look. This moth has a wingspan of 5.8 inches and a life cycle of 2 weeks as an adult.

These moths prefer the woodlands of the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. The bolas spider can imitate a female cecropia’s pheromones and will utilize the aroma to attract male moths into their webs.

 The moths mate from March to July and, in specific locations, from May to June, then repeat two weeks later.

6. Splendid Royal Moth

You may find this regal beauty near the northern border of Mexico and in the lower sections of the United States. The mating season lasts only a few months, from July to August, with groups of 1-4 eggs placed on a host leaf at a time.

They are grey with red veins and white patterns, and they like the leaves of wild cotton, manzanita, New Mexico evergreen sumac, and squawbush.

In September, they will dig underground chambers for the pupa stage of the life cycle before hatching as a moth.

7. Giant Wood Moth

 While exploring the largest moths, The Giant wood moth cannot be left out. It is quite rare to see one of these enormous moths.

The wingspan is 9.8 inches, considered the largest moth in the world, weighing just over an ounce. These moths may be found along the Queensland and New South Wales coasts.

However, the larval stage is attracted to the softwood of eucalyptus trees and exhibits a purple and white banding. As they grow older, their coloration fades.

The adult has a short life cycle, only lasting a few days before producing eggs and dying. Females do not consume and rely on reserves built up while in the larva stage to live. Females do not fly well, so they prefer resting on tree trunks or wooden objects.

8. The Atlas Moth

You can encounter an Atlas Moth if you travel to Southeast Asia. With a wingspan of 10-12 inches, this moth is towards the top of our list of largest moths in the world.

The exquisite hues and patterns on the wings include reddish-brown with white, black, pink, and purple motifs. The underside is a lighter hue.

These moths have a predator defensive technique integrated into their vivid appearance. The tips of the wings resemble snake heads, which would deter attackers. When predators are present, they will spray secretions like skunks during the caterpillar stage.

9. White Witch Moth (Thysania Agrippina)

The White Witch’s wingspan is 11.4 inches and is native to South America, Mexico, and Texas. The White Witch is an uncommon sight, owing to its ability to blend in with trees. It has a zigzag pattern with brown, black, or grey colors. 

This lovely moth is also known as the Birdwing Moth, the Ghost Moth, the Great Owlet Moth, and the Great Grey Witch Moth. A White Witch’s life span is 1-2 weeks.

10. Hercules Moth (Coscinocera Hercules)

Lastly on our list of largest moths in the world is the Hercules moth. This magnificent species has a wingspan of 10.6 inches, with females reaching 14.2 inches.

Hercules moths have the world’s biggest wingspan, measuring more than 14 inches! They are in Northern Queensland and New Guinea.

 Because they do not have useable mouths to feed, their life span is only 2-8 days. They have ample time to mate and deposit eggs.

The Hercules Moth caterpillar may grow up to 5 inches long and has artificial eyes at the back to fool predators. Despite its brief lifespan, this moth may spend up to two years in the cocoon stage.

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