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13 November 2014

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You are in: Wiltshire > Nature > Nature Features > World's largest moth in Swindon

Atlas Moth at Butterfly World

Atlas Moth at Butterfly World

World's largest moth in Swindon

The newest arrival at Swindon's Butterfly World sports a whopping foot long wing span and is the largest moth in the World.

Butterfly World, a lush tropical garden with cascading waterfalls, exotic plants and free-flying butterflies, is one of the largest butterfly parks in the country.

Over 700 butterflies, from all corners of the tropics, have the run of an enormous conservatory, landscaped with exotic plants and flowers.

Owl Butterfly eating a fermented peach

Owl Butterfly eating a fermented peach

And the newest arrival is an Attacus Atlas, aka the Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world.

The Atlas Moth is huge.  It sports a hefty foot long wing span and is often mistaken for a small bird when it's flying around.

Hailing from the jungles of Southeast Asia the mammoth moth is born without a mouth and has just two weeks to find a mate before literally starving to death.

With its mind bent on speed dating and being, size-wise, a tad conspicuous the Atlas moth would be a sitting duck if it wasn't for its unusual wing markings.

Thought to resemble maps, hence the name Atlas Moth, the markings on its hooked wing tips also resemble snake's heads, complete with eyes, which literally scare off its predators.

The Atlas Moth joins the over 30 different exotic species which have the run of the climate controlled tropical garden basking in the 80 degree heat and balmy 80% humidity.

At Butterfly World, no matter what the weather, it is always summer.

Scarlet Swallowtail

Scarlet Swallowtail

As you enter iridescent butterflies splashed with bright red, vibrant yellow and deep neon-blue flash and dance in front of you.

Emerald Swallowtails from South Asia, giant neon-blue Morphos from South America and the huge Owl Butterfly are just some of the exotics.

Eighty different varieties of tropical plants, including banana, mango and hibiscus, fill the garden.

With butterflies being really picky eaters, often feeding on a single plant, you can see why.

Whilst the voracious caterpillar feeds on the leaves of the plant, adult butterflies feed only on flower nectar and rotting fruit.

The Owl Butterfly, for instance, feeds exclusively on fermenting fruit. It’s a habit which can result in the giant butterfly literally keeling over in a drunken stupor.

Alcohol intake aside most adult butterflies live for only a few weeks.

Giant Swallowtail from North America

Giant Swallowtail from North America

So to keep the butterflies flying the farm literally imports live pupae from butterfly farms from around the world.

The live pupae are copydexed to doweling rods and hung ready for hatching.

You can take a peak at the live pupae suspended from racks in the emerging room.

Almost as colourful as the butterflies themselves the pupae can look like dead leaves or resemble glittering metal.

If you're lucky you might see a butterfly emerging from its pupa.

While you're there check out the spiders, scorpions and mantis in the mini beasts house.

All in all Butterfly World is a little taste of the tropics in the heart of Wiltshire.

Butterfly World is open every day except Christmas Day from 10:00 to 18:00 during the summer and 10:00 to dusk throughout the winter. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing.  For more information call the Butterfly Farm 01793 852400.

last updated: 04/12/2008 at 10:55
created: 20/04/2005

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Wow! iv never known there were such butterflys like these!!!

I like big mothes.:)

Frank Dodge
While stationed in Thailand in 1966, A giant moth flew into our metal working shop. It attached itself to a window shutter and died. We took a photo of it and sent it to Guiness. I was holding an 18" scale over it. I believe it appeared in the 1968 issue of the book. It had a 13" wingspan. That was a long time ago and things have been lost and forgotten. I can't locate a 68 edition of the book but if someone there could, I am sure they would see the photo

chrstopher appleby
hi live in sheffield and i walk out of my back door and there was an enormus moth but i dont really know if we have big mothes like that around sheffild

it sure is a big un. What does it taste like. Nice I'd imagine.

Dennis Decker

I love moths

Hayley Parkin
Your sight is amazing, ut it would be appreciated if you could enclose some more size related pictures!

regina towers
These pictures are disgusting. I hate moths.

Lauren Gore
As a keen novice in the art of "mothing", this was an experience to remember! The Atlas moth is amazing and even bigger than I expected.

James Scott
We found a 50 foot long caterpillar in the back garden while digging for treasure. It was pink with dark green yellow spots, its "party trick" was to talk. It sounded french, but I am not entirely sure. Please can someone identify what type of caterpillar this was? Kind Regards, James Scott

Roger Hamblin
Must find time to visit soon as two years ago we found a huge caterpillar in our back garden in berkshire. it was a dull green with a sort of spike on its tail like a hawk moth caterpillar. It was similar to pictures of the convolvulus hawk moth but nowhere near as colourful. it was as fat as my large little finger and about 60mm long and its party trick was to pull its nose into its body puffing up the head making it look just like a grass snake with whiteish eyes on the sides can you identify by this description please?

hefdmclb ttttrsdgjbbv
what is the atlas moth wing spand

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