Photo: C & D Frith
Australia's Wet Tropics
Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules)
- The Hercules moth belongs to the family Saturniidae.
- It is the largest species of moth in Australia and one of the largest in the world
- It is found in both Tropical North Queensland and in New-Guinea.
- Males are slightly smaller than females which can have a wingspan of 25cm.
- The males have larger feather like antenna and more tapering, tail-like wings.
- Females secrete chemicals (pheromones) to attract the males.
- After mating, the females lay 80-100 eggs on the leaves or stems of 6-8 rainforest plant species, which represent the moths only food plants.
- The females die after mating and egg laying as they have no mouth parts and so are unable to eat.
- The females live only as long as their fat deposits last.
- The blue-green caterpillars grow to 10cm before they spin cocoons and pupate.
- Can be seen around the leaves of the bleeding heart tree.
- They are attracted in substantial numbers to flood lights around the Barron River Hydro Power Station.
This species and the tropical Asian 'Atlas moth' compete for biggest moths in the world, if measured by wing area.
The colours are various shades of leaf browns.
There are, as with many in the family, small 'windows' in the wings.
The males have long 'tails' off the wings (right).
Adults are then generally seen from January to April.
Script: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide