A giant moth specimen, the heaviest of all moths, was recently discovered on a primary school building in Queensland, Australia. These insects are very rarely seen in adulthood.
In recent years, students and staff at Mount Cotton State School in Queensland have observed wallabies, koalas and other reptiles roaming the nearby rainforest. A giant wood moth, on the other hand, is a great first. The specimen was recently isolated by workers responsible for building new classrooms.
“It was an incredible discovery”, said Meagan Steward, the school principal, at the microphone ofABC Radio Brisbane. “We had never seen one before”. The kids were obviously thrilled, she said. One of them, very inspired, would have even written a story imagining this giant insect devouring one of the teachers of the school. The specimen, on the other hand, was quickly released into the wild.
The heaviest butterfly in the world
Endoxyla cinereus, or the giant wood moth, is a moth of the Cossidae family found only in Australia and New Zealand. It is the heaviest butterfly in the world. Some specimens can indeed weigh up to thirty grams, which is as heavy as a small mouse. The females of the species are particularly large, some displaying a wingspan of twenty-three centimeters. Males, on the other hand, are only half that size.
Note that while the giant wood moth is indeed very large, it is not the largest butterfly in the world. This honor goes to the white witch (Thysania agrippina). Observable in Mexico and South America, this insect can reach a wingspan of twenty-nine centimeters.
A very short life cycle
Despite its very impressive size, Endoxyla cinereus is rarely seen in the wild. And for good reason, these insects spend the vast majority of their life in the larval state, nested inside the trunks of Eucalyptus. They spend about three years there before pupation takes place. Once adults, these butterflies only live for about a week – dying soon after spawning (females) or mating (males).
During this short time, they rest on the trunks of Eucalyptus, where they fold their narrow wings along their body to camouflage themselves from predators.