A moth is not an animal we’d like to see at home, particularly in our closet, or even in the backyard. However, the moth family is one of the most diverse in the world, with over 150,000 species around the world. Each species possesses traits and complexities, some of which can rival any butterfly while others have incredible defense mechanisms you wouldn’t expect to find in such creatures. After reading this article, you just might change your views on moths.
1. Attacus Atlas
These gigantic moths can be found in Southern Asia. It is considered to be one of the largest moths in the world – hence its name the “Atlas Moth”. They can reach a size of 10-12 inches (25-30cm).
2. Actias Lun
This moth employs a defense mechanism similar to butterflies, which simulates “eyes” on its wings, meant to deter predators. Its long “tail” is used to confuse the moth’s main predator – the bat.
3. Acraga Coa
This tropical moth can be found in Central America and is nicknamed the “Jewel Moth”. These moths go through an amazing transformation from a translucent caterpillar, covered in a sticky chemical for protection, into the beautiful plumage-covered creature you see above.
4. Acharia Ophelians
These caterpillars are a bright green, with a turquoise-colored head. The above photo shows them resting on a leaf.
5. Argema Mimosa
Also known as the “African Moon Moth”, it is one of the world’s largest silk moths. This species does not have a mouth, and its short lifespan is spent mating.
6. Mulberry Silkworm
This caterpillar is beginning to build its cocoon out of silk threads it produces. Sadly, they are very small, meaning that it takes 2000-3000 cocoons to produce about 3 feet of silk cloth.
7. Hyalophora Cecropia
The above photo is the caterpillar stage. The colorful decorations on the caterpillar’s back are actually called tubercles and researchers believe they’re used to deter predators.
Once out of the cocoon (left side of the photo), this female spreads its wings to dry them out before she’ll attempt to fly. This species wingspan can grow as large as 6 inches (15cm), making them the largest moth species in North America.
8. Macaria Occiduuaria
Caught mid-flight Mt. Hood National Park, Oregon, U.S.A. – At the caterpillar stage, this species doesn’t have legs, making it slow and clumsy to a degree where it spends most of its days going around itself in circles.
9. Wasp Moth
Before it starts building its cocoon, the wasp moth caterpillar forms protective “fences” to block hungry ants from reaching his cocoon.
10. Ctenucha Virginica
This is also a type of wasp moth, native to Cross Lake in Minnesota, U.S.A. – While most moths are nocturnal, this species is one of the only ones that are active both at night and during the day.
11. Puss Caterpillars
This caterpillar may look like a cuddly little kitten, but if you touch it – you’ll be sorry. Under the plumage, there’s an array of poisonous spines that can cause tremendous pain, vomiting, and even respiratory distress.
12. Tussock Moth
The caterpillars of this species have multiple colors, but touching them is inadvisable – even the slightest touch can cause a severe rash. Any predators that try to eat these moths tend to lose their appetites. Permanently.
13. Camouflaged Moth
As opposed to the aggressive defense mechanisms we saw before, this moth tries to stay as inconspicuous as possible, camouflaging itself as a dry leaf.
14. Comet Moth
This beautiful species is endemic to the Islands of Madagascar and are also the world’s largest silk moth. They have a wingspan of 8 inches (20cm), and the “tail” can be as long as 6 inches (15cm).
15. Drycampa Rubicunda
These beauties are native to Canada, where they feed mainly on maple trees (red, silver, and sugar maple) but only during their caterpillar stage – once they turn into mature moths, they lose their mouths. At night, the females release pheromones that the males sense with their feelers, and that’s how they invite each other for a wild night.
16. Deilephila Elpenor
Nicknamed the “Elephant Moth”, they can be found all through Europe and Asia, from Ireland to Japan. Once these moths spread their wings, their shape, and coloring, in combination with the shape of the moth’s body make it look like a decorated elephant’s head.
17. Automeris Metzli
This thorny caterpillar uses its rigid protrusions both as a defensive shield, as well as an active bit of camouflage. They are endemic to the Santa Rosa National Park in Costa Rica.