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.

A pretty impressive moth
A pretty impressive moth compared with a 5TL note

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.

Alan Fenn takes the scientific approach to measuring
Alan Fenn takes the scientific approach to measuring

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

out more.

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.

Long feathery antennae help the male to track down a female
Long feathery antennae help the male to track down 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.

A butterfly or moth egg transforming into an adult is a remarkable process known as metamorphosis.

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.

The caterpillar grows and grows and grows
The caterpillar grows and grows and grows

When they can’t grow any more, they spin them selves a brown, fibrous, silk cocoon.

A butterfly or moth egg transforming into an adult is a remarkable process known as metamorphosis.
Brown fibrous cocoon

 A miraculous life cycle

A butterfly or moth egg transforming into an adult is a remarkable process known as metamorphosis.

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.

brown fibrous cocoon

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

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