Monster Moths: 15 Big Moth Species Found In The World

big moth species

Moths come in different shapes, colors and sizes ranging from big moth species to tiny moths. In this article we will look at the 15 largest moth species found in the world today.

We will take a look at their general appearance, wingspan size and where they are mostly found starting with the biggest moth species.

Here is a summary;

Big Moth Species – Size Table

Big Moth SpeciesSize (Wingspan)
Hercules Moth0.3 to 12 inches (0.8 to 30.5 cm)
White Witch11.4 inches (29 cm)
Atlas Moth9 to 12 inches (22 to 30 cm)
Giant Wood Moth10 inches (25 cm)
Imperial Moth3 to 7 inches (8 to 18 cm)
Royal Walnut Moth4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm)
Giant Silk Moth6 inches (15 cm)
Polyphemus Moth3 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm)
Cecropia Silkmoth5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm)
Splendid Royal Moth4.2 to 6 inches (11 to 15 cm)
Giant Leopard Moth3 inches (7.6 cm)
Io Moths2 to 3 inches (5 to 10 cm)
Luna Moths3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm)
Hawk Moths2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm)

Top 15 Big Moth Species

1. Hercules Moth

Hercules Moth, big moth species
  • Scientific name: Coscinocera hercules
  • Appearance: Golden brown, white
  • Location: North Queensland, New Guinea
  • Wingspan: 11 to 14 inches (28 to 36 cm)

The Hercules moth is considered the largest moth, the size of a dinner plate. This moth lives for 2 to 8 days because they do not really eat in their adulthood.

2. White Witch

  • Scientific name: Thysania agrippina
  • Appearance: Zigzag patterned with shades of black, grey and brown
  • Location: South America, Mexico, Texas
  • Wingspan: 11.4 inches (29 cm)

The White Witch is one of top 3 largest moth species. It’s also called the Ghost Moth or Great Grey Witch moth.

The ability they have to blend in with trees is attributed to their physical appearance. These moths have a lifespan of about 1 to 2 weeks.

3. Atlas Moth

  • Scientific name: Attacus atlas
  • Appearance: Copper to red-brown, white, pink, purple winged
  • Location: China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia
  • Wingspan: 9 to 12 inches (22 to 30 cm)

The Atlas moth is another big moth species, it is a goliath-sized moth yet a very gentle giant. This moth prefers dry rainforests, tropical areas and shrublands. 

As a caterpillar, it is always feeding as it has a huge appetite. The females are larger than the males with an average body mass of 30 g (1.0 ounce) and 16 g (0.6 ounces) respectively.

They have a relatively short lifespan of 2 weeks. [1]

4. Giant Wood Moth

  • Scientific name: Endoxyla cinera
  • Appearance: Gray with brown spots
  • Location: Coast of Queensland and South Wales
  • Wingspan: 10 inches (25 cm)

They are known for boring into eucalyptus trees hence the name. The females are heavier than the males and weigh up to 30 g. They have a very short lifespan with the adults living for only a few days.

5. Imperial Moth

Imperial Moth, big moth species
  • Scientific name: Eagles imperialis
  • Appearance: Gray, white, yellow, orange, purple, pink, light brown or dark brown
  • Location: United States, Canada
  • Wingspan: 3 to 7 inches (8 to 18 cm)

The imperial moth lives in deciduous or coniferous forests. They do not eat and thus the adult lives up to 1 week only.

6. Royal Walnut Moth

  • Scientific name: Citheronia regalis
  • Appearance: Gray-green wings with orange stripes and yellow dots
  • Location: Southeast regions of the United States
  • Wingspan: 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm)

The royal walnut moth is also called the regal moth and belongs to the Saturniidae family.

They begin the night after mating and the females can lay up to 3 eggs at a time, depositing them on the leaves of the host plants. This big moth species has a lifespan of about 1 to 2 weeks. [2]

7. Giant Silk Moth

Giant Silk Moth
  • Scientific name: Saturniids
  • Appearance: Brown or orange with yellow ‘eyespots’
  • Location: North America
  • Wingspan: 6 inches (15 cm)

Giant silk moths belongs to the family Saturniidae with the polyphemus moth as the main species of this moth.

The adults are born without mouthparts and thus do not feed. They are born for the sole purpose of mating and reproduction.

The males have large feathery antennae which are used to detect the scent of a female from afar.

8. Polyphemus Moth

  • Scientific name: Antheraea polyphemus
  • Appearance: shades of brown; dark eyespot; lavender tipped wing
  • Location: Southern Canada through to Mexico
  • Wingspan: 3 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm)

This moth falls within the Saturniidae family. They are silk moths and live in forests, wetlands, gardens and orchards. Once the adults emerge from their cocoons, mostly in the afternoon, they immediately begin to mate the same day, usually late in the evening to early morning. They can live for up to 3 to 4 days.

9. Cecropia Silkmoth

Cecropia Silkmoth, big moth species
  • Scientific name: Hyalophora cecropia
  • Appearance: Brown, white, gray or blue-winged; reddish bodies
  • Location: the United States and Canadian forests
  • Wingspan: 5 to 7 inches (13 to 18 cm)

Cecropia moths are beautiful silk moths whose main goal is to mate and lay eggs.

The female attracts the male by releasing some powerful chemical signals overnight and the male picks them up using his large antennae and finds the female before sunrise.

They do not have functional mouthparts or digestive tracts because they only live for 10 to 14 days and solely mate. This large moth species can survive off of the energy stored up when caterpillars.

10. Splendid Royal Moth

  • Scientific name: Citheronia splendens
  • Appearance: Dark gray with red veins and white oval spots wings
  • Location: Southern Arizona through to central and south-eastern Mexico
  • Wingspan:4.2 to 6 inches (11 to 15 cm)

This moth belongs to the Lepidoptera species in the giant silkworm moths family.

They are nocturnal insects and enjoy feeding on tasty leaves of the wild cotton, evergreen sumac and squawbush. They have a short mating season and can lay between 1 to 4 eggs at a time.

11. Giant Leopard Moth

Giant Leopard Moth
  • Scientific name: Hypercompe scribonia
  • Appearance: White and black spotted
  • Location: North America, southern and eastern United States through to New England, Mexico, southern Ontario
  • Wingspan: 3 inches (7.6 cm)

The giant leopard moth is nocturnal and generally flies only after nightfall.  During the mating season, the male uses its wings to cover the female’s abdomen and this can lead to loss of wing scales which can adversely affect the male’s efficiency to fly.

They can mate for 24 hours. As an adult, they live for only a few days. They like to eat woody plants such as cherries, sunflowers and willows among others.

12. Io Moths

  • Scientific name: Automeris io
  • Appearance: yellow, blue-green males, red-brown females
  • Location: Southern Canada through to the eastern United States of America, eastern Mexico
  • Wingspan: 2 to 3 inches (5 to 10 cm)

The Io moth is beautiful and has two large black spots on its hind wings, spots that resemble the eyes of an owl. This moth will flash its predators the eyespots in a bid to scare them away.

When young, they prefer to stay in groups and separate as they mature. They are covered in stinging spines that upon touching cause skin irritation.

13. Luna Moths

Luna Moths
  • Scientific: Actias luna
  • Appearance: Lime-green wings; white body
  • Location: North America
  • Wingspan: 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm)

The Luna moth is also known as the American moon moth which belongs to a group of giant silk moths. This is attributed to the moon-like spots on its wings.

They live for about 1 week. Because of their short lifespan, males emerge from their cocoons first before the females to give the former a headstart and ensure reproduction.

14. Hawk Moths

  • Scientific name: Eumorpha typhon 
  • Appearance: Stout and bullet-shaped
  • Location: Europe, Africa
  • Wingspan: 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm)

The hawk moth is another big moth species that is sometimes referred to as the sphinx or hummingbird moth. They are known for their hovering and swift flying patterns with long forewings and shorter hind wings.

The hawk moths like to feed on and honey making them great pollinators of orchids and petunias. Sometimes, they migrate.

15. Owlet Moths

Owlet Moths
  • Scientific name: Mesogona olivata
  • Appearance: Triangular, stout-bodied; dull-colored wings
  • Location: West coast of North America
  • Wingspan: 0.3 to 12 inches (0.8 to 30.5 cm)

Last but not least, the Owlet is a large moth species also called miller. They fly at night and are attracted to lightbulbs. They like to feed on sap, nectar and fruits.

There are various species of this moth and are most commonly found in wet forests to semi-arid steppe habitats. They live for about four to six weeks.

Next read: Types of rare butterflies

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