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Giant Peacock Moth (Saturnia pyri)

The giant peacock moth is a member of the family of saturniid moths, found throughout southern Europe. It is the largest moth in Europe and was first described by Austrian pair of priest Michael Denis and naturalist Ignaz Schiffermüller in 1775.

Giant Peacock Moth

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Scientific Classification


  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Saturnia
  • Scientific Name: Saturnia pyri

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Initially, the caterpillars are black, becoming orange in the 2nd stage and green in the 3rd. The larvae are known to deter predators by sending out ultrasonic chirps. It goes through four instars over a span of five weeks.

Giant Peacock Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

The caterpillars take two days to weave a brownish cocoon and form a chrysalis inside it after 5-7 days.

Giant Peacock Moth Pupa

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance

When the wings are opened, a variety of colors can be observed, including black, carmine, grey, olive green, and white. When the wings are closed, the patterns remain observable.

Average wingspan: 15-20 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: April to June

Saturnia pyri

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Egg

Female moths lay around 20 eggs.

Giant Peacock Moth Eggs

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Quick Facts

DistributionSouthern and eastern Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, southern France, southern Greece, northern Hungary, the Iberian Peninsula, north Israel, Italy, south Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, North Macedonia, southern Romania, Russia,  central and southern Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, western Syria, southern Turkey, Ukraine, and extends into Siberia and North Africa
HabitatDry, hot, and open landscapes
Lifespan of Adults6 weeks
Host PlantsApple, ash, blackthorn, plum, poplar, and walnut
Adult DietPlant and tree sugars

Did You Know

  • This moth has caught the attention of several notable people from history, including Greek philosopher Aristotle, the 16th-century illustrator Jacobo Ligozzi and famous painter Vincent van Gogh.
Giant Peacock Moth Image

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Giant Peacock Moth Picture

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