Picón, Land of Imperial Giants

2013_04_26 PIC - Giant Emperor Moth (Saturnia pyri) 05
Giant Emperor Moth (Saturnia pyri)

I went out to our house in Picón to see how the builders and plumber were getting on. As I walked in to the patio, to my absolute delight, I saw this huge moth on the kitchen wall. Seemingly, it had been found on the ground when the men arrived but they gently placed it on the wall out of harms way.

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Giant Emperor Moth (Saturnia pyri)

The moth itself had a wingspan of approximately 12cm , easily as big as my mobile phone and when I got home I found out that it was a Giant Emperor Moth (Saturnia pyri), also know as the Giant Peacock, Great Peacock or Viennese Emperor. It is the largest European moth and a member of a large family of large moths. It has a distribution throughout southern Europe, to North Africa and as far as the Middle East, up to an altitude of 2000m I believe. The adults fly from April to June, and the females do not eat as their only priority is to reproduce before they die. The caterpillars are large also measuring up to 18cm long and they feed primarily on fruit and almond trees, there being quite a few of both in the area of Picón.

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Giant Emperor Moth (Saturnia pyri)

Having seen this stunning creature, I really can’t wait to move out to the village and hang a white sheet with a bright light at night and see what other beautiful moths we have. Whilst many people fear moths, possibly due to their nocturnal nature, there is a huge variety of species of moth, many of them equally as beautiful, or more, as their daytime cousins, the butterflies. The problem is that they come out in the dark and so we just never really see or notice them. If this moth flew past you at night, you might think it a bat.

Contact Oretani Wildlife for guided birding, wildlife and flora tours in Montes Norte and Castilla La Mancha, in central Spain. We will also hang out a white sheet and light and attract moths for you.

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