Belongs to: day-flying moths

Emperor moth Saturnia pavonia


Best time to see: mid May to late Jul

Key facts

A large 'eyed' moth, only native British member of the silk-moth family

Habitat: heaths, moors and woodland edge

Widely distributed throughout Britain

Recognition

Larger female brown-and-grey patterned; male similar with orange hindwings; four prominent eyespots

Males fly fast by day; females active only at night but may be seen sunning themselves

Females, with a wingspan over 8 cm, produce large amounts of pheromones, attracting males from 100s of metres away

Lifecycle

Yellow spherical eggs laid in rings around the stems of heather, purple loosestrife or bramble in April and May

Black hairy caterpillars eat in groups, changing in colour to green with yellow bristly warts

Tough, tapered cocoon spun in the foliage of the foodplant in July or August, moths emerging the next spring

  • Main photo
  • female
  • caterpillar

Photo © Iris Newbery

Photo © Iris Newbery

Photo © Iris Newbery