Seeing Double

June 11, 2009 at 11:59 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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The first time I saw an Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas) was when Itchyfingers were cycling at Pulau Ubin one day. Suddenly something huge hanging on a leaf caught my eyes. 

“What’s that? Atlas Moth! It’s Atlas Moth!” I shouted.

I had seen many pictures of the Atlas Moth but that was the first time I was seeing a real one, so naturally I was excited about it.

atlas4
Seeing is believing…I knew it is the largest moth in the world, but was still
amazed by its huge size…it’s bigger than my palm! 

Atlas Moths have wingspans of 25-30 cm long. Females are larger and heavier. They are so named for their map-like wing patterns.

atlas2
Unfortunately it was back facing us…could only see the underside

The grass was thick, so Tisu Boy went in to take a closer look and took this picture for me to see…

atlas3
Oooo…looked the same on both sides…

Female Atlas Moths attract males by secreting a pheromone (a chemical signal that triggers a natural response in another member of the same speciesthrough a gland at the end of the abdomen. The male Atlas Moths has huge long feathery antennae to track down the female by her pheromones. The females are much larger than the males and don’t have feathery antennae.

female
Hmmm…so I guess this must be the female cos of the absence of bushy
antenna… 

The second time I saw the Atlas Moth was again in Pulau Ubin while cycling. This time, this individual was perching on a small plant near the road, thus we were able to take a closer look.

atlas
This individual looked much nicer than the first one…the wings were all
in perfect condition!  

snake
The apical extension of the forewing resembles a snake’s head, a possible
adaptation to ward off potential predators 

antenna
This should be the male, with feathery antenna

Like most moths, Atlas Moths don’t eat at all throughout their adult life which lasts for about two weeks. In fact, they don’t even have a mouth and live off fat reserves built up when they were caterpillars. The adults quickly mate, lay eggs, and die shortly thereafter.

Although it is said to be common in Singapore, these were the only two encounters of the Atlas Moths for me. Tisu Boy had seen them in some parks but that was also quite some times ago…Really hope to be able to see one again!

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