This is no diplomatic incident… The Austrian Empire has not come to Turkey!
The title of this story may confuse those who know little about moths and butterflies
but the remarkable Greater Viennese Emperor is so big it’s hard to miss.
It looks a bit like a bird or maybe a colossal butterfly, but in fact it is a moth.
A distinctive aristocrat
The emperor moth or Saturnia pyri, is also known as the Giant Peacock Moth or
Greater Viennese Emperor Moth.
This Saturniid moth is the largest moth found in Europe and certainly one of the most distinctive.
An unusual meeting
Ovacik resident and avid photographer, Angela Sowten, was walking with her family a couple of weeks
ago when she discovered a male Emperor moth on the road.
As always, she had her camera with her and was able to capture this natural wonder
in all its glory.
As this moth was flying during the day, perhaps it was a male because evidently the
females usually only fly at night.
Normally these moths can be seen in and around the local pine forests but
this one was lying on the road. Angela had the foresight to move this
specimen to a safe place in the nearby hedgerow.
Dalyan resident and blogger, Alan Fenn, of Archers of Okçular fame,
has photographed them too and we’ve done a bit of research to find
It’s a real treat to see an emperor moth at all but they are usually
about from April until early June.
However, this one was seen in mid March.
Searching for a mate?
One of the many wonders of this moth is that the male has great skills
when it comes to searching out a female.
He has long, feathery antennae that can help him detect an unmated female’s pheromones.
These are so powerful he can travel up to two kilometers in pursuit.
Mating takes place at night, and afterwards the female emperor moth seeks out some
greenery on which to lay the eggs.
Very hungry caterpillars
This long and complicated process that now unfolds is called metamorphosis.
The minuscule, black eggs hatch within a few days and at once the caterpillars begin eating huge
quantities of their favourite plants.
The caterpillars grow to a very impressive size and turn bright green.
When they can’t grow any more, they spin them selves a brown, fibrous, silk cocoon.
A miraculous life cycle
Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar sheds its skin, transforming into a violet brown pupa.
This is the last stage of development before becoming an adult moth.
Within the pupa a mysterious transformation takes place.
The caterpillar’s internal organs dissolve until the pupa only contains fluid.
Slowly, the adult moth begins to grow, a process that can take a whole winter,
but sometimes takes much longer, even years.
The Emperor’s new clothes
The casing that held the growing moth splits, allowing the imago or adult moth to emerge.
However, before it can fly its crumpled wings must dry and stiffen.
And life goes on…
The male now has to start on his search for a female as they only have a few weeks to live.
Thanks to Angela and Alan for allowing us to use their brilliant photos
For more information about the Viennese Emperor visit this website