Home / Saturniidae Moth (Saturniidae) / Comet Moth (Argema mittrei)

Comet Moth (Argema mittrei)

The Comet moth indigenous to Madagascar’s rainforests was described in 1847 by French entomologist Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville. Though reared in captivity, their numbers remain endangered in the wild because of habitat loss.

Comet Moth

madamagazine.com

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Argema
  • Scientific Name: Argema mittrei

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

They hatch in 10-20 days once the egg is laid. The baby caterpillars are voracious eaters, mainly thriving upon eucalyptus leaves. Upon maturation, they turn bright green.

Comet Moth Larvae

c8.alamy.com

Comet Moth Caterpillar

madamagazine.com

Pupa

The pupa remains enclosed in a large grayish-white cocoon closely resembling a sac. Because of its rainforest habitat, the pupa could be at the risk of drowning but is saved as the cocoon has many holes in it through which the rainwater seeps out and does not accumulate

Comet Moth Cocoon

madamagazine.com

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened, they are bright yellow with about four reddish-brown eyespots, two on top and two below. The borders are also outlined in brown, while the topmost part of both sides has two brownish lines running parallel. When the wings are closed, the pattern is the same, with two of the four eyespots visible.

The wings are more rounded in females than males. There is a difference in their antennae too, as the males have long, feathery ones, while in females, it is as thin as a thread.

Both the sexes also have long red, twisted tails, with patches of yellow at the end, used as a defense mechanism against bats.

Average wingspan: 20 cm (in males, and is slightly shorter in females); Tail span: 15 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: May to June

Madagascan Moon Moth

madamagazine.com

Male Comet Moth

lh3.googleusercontent.com

Eggs

The eggs are small and round, and the female moth lays about 120 to 170 of them.

Comet Moth Eggs

alamy.com

Quick Facts

Other NamesMadagascan moon moth
DistributionMadagascar
HabitatRainforest areas
PredatorsNot recorded
Lifespan of Adults4 -5 days
Host PlantsEugenia cuneifolia, Sclerocarya birreaWeinmania eriocampaRhus cotinusSchinus terebinthifolia, Schinus molle
Adult dietMostly nectar of their host plants

Did You Know

  • Their name is a result of their long colorful tail that looks like a comet.
  • Because of its long wingspan, it stands out as one of the world’s largest silk moth species.
  • Argema, their genus name in Greek means “speckled eye”, all because of their eyespots, which are big enough to scare predators.  
  • This moth previously appeared in the 1000 Malagasy ariary banknote.
Madagascan Comet Moth

wikimedia.org

Argema mittrei

nhm.ac.uk

Comet Moth Images

i.pinimg.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.