Emperor Moth: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Emperor moth facts about the insect that has three subspecies.

Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, described emperor moth in the year 1758. The emperor moth, Saturnia pavonia, is a beautiful, colorful insect species that belongs to the Saturniidae family, making them the only species in Britain.

The British Isles, Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, and the Palearctic regions are some of the places where they can be spotted easily. Wildlife moorland, countryside, and heathland are closer to their habitat. They can be spotted in the months of April and May in the wildlife. They are found in litter in the early stages of development when they are moth caterpillars, whereas, adults fly out at night and day.

The eggs laid by the female emperor moth on average are 75 and can be differentiated from the male emperor moth on the basis of their physical description. The female emperor moth is bigger than the male emperor moth. Sexual dimorphism is evident. As they are autotrophs by nature, they prey on plants such as heather, bramble, blackthorn, apple, and pear. Emperor caterpillars are considered seasonal minor pests which follow silk trails, causing minimal economic loss to seasonal plants.

If you want to learn more about other moths, read some interesting fun facts about the regal moth or the Io moth.

Emperor Moth

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Bramble, heather, blackthorn

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

75 eggs

How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

2-3 in (5.5-8 cm) (wingspan)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Muddy brown

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Parasites (insects)

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Moorland, heathland, countryside


British Isles





Scientific Name

Saturnia pavonia





Emperor Moth Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an emperor moth?

The emperor moth, known by the scientific name Saturnia pavonia, is a type of beautiful insect with sexual dimorphism. Both the male and female moths look different from each other. Emperor moths are still mistaken to be from the genus of Pavonia. They belong to Saturnia genus.

What class of animal does an emperor moth belong to?

The emperor moth and the Polyphemus moth belong to the family of Saturniidae. Emperor moths fall under the order of Lepidoptera, and the phylum Arthropoda.

How many emperor moths are there in the world?

The global population of emperor moths is still not precisely counted and from many resources, it is evident that they are not Extinct.

Where does an emperor moth live?

From chronological distribution and history, it is evident that they are found on British mainland wildlife and are the only insects from the Saturniidae family in Britain. They live in the Palearctic region, the British Isles, and countries such as Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales.

What is an emperor moth's habitat?

The emperor moth can be found in wildlife when on their wings, as well as, in moorland, heathland, and countryside in the months of April and May. They can be spotted near the sand dunes, fence areas, and open fields.

Who do emperor moths live with?

When they are small, so in their early stage of development, caterpillars live in groups following silk trails. Whereas, when they are fully grown adults, on their wings, they usually spread out in the wildlife. Females fly around at night, whereas, males fly around in day time. The eggs are laid in batches (75 on an average) on the plants they feed.

How long does an emperor moth live?

The emperor moth, Saturnia pavonia caterpillar lives for three to four weeks, whereas an adult moth can only survive for eight to ten days as they do not feed. The complete life cycle of the emperor moth lasts from five to six weeks, unlike the American dagger moth that lives up to three years.

How do they reproduce?

Female emperor moths fly at night, whereas the male emperor moths fly in the daytime. The female emperor moth produces a scent like smell known as pheromone to attract the male emperor moth. The male moth uses its furry antennae to reach out to the scent produced in order to mate with the female emperor moth. Pheromone markings play an important role in reproduction. In rare cases, it is evident that the female moth is attracted to light. In those rare cases, they mate and the female reproduces the eggs in batches of an average of 75 each on their fodder plant. Males and females mate on low levels of green flora because the female moth rests on low levels on the ground at day times.

What is their conservation status?

The emperor moth's conservation status is of Least Concern. It is evident that they are found world wide and are common to their native land.

Emperor Moth Fun Facts

What do emperor moths look like?

The emperor moth is incredibly beautiful, with bright-colored hind and forewings. From the time the eggs are laid until they hatch, their color changes from pale yellow to gray-brown. When the emperor moth caterpillar is young larvae, they are pale orange and black in color with small soft hairs, whereas when they are fully grown moth caterpillar, their color changes to green with black and red dark spots or markings all over their bodies. The cocoon is brown in color with black lateral lines and markings.

The adult emperor moth has sex dimorphism and thus distinguishes on the basis of their appearance. The forewings of the male emperor moth are grayish-brown and light cream, while the hindwings are orange with prominent black and yellow eyespots. The hind and forewings of the female emperor moth are muddy-brown to gray in color, with four black and yellow prominent eyespots. They both have noticeable antennas similar to the rosy maple moth. Male antennae are furry and large, while female antennae are smooth.

Male emperor moth has dark prominent eyes on hindwings and forewings.

How cute are they?

Adult emperor moths, both male and female, are cute in their appearance. The wide range of colors from light to dark combinations in their hind wings and forewings look amazing with dark eye spots on each wing. They have beautiful antennas, making them more luring in their looks.

How do they communicate?

The adult moth communicates through scents called pheromones, and their antennas help them to smell and rich around the place from miles away.

How big is an emperor moth?

The emperor moth, Saturnia pavonia, and the puss moth are similar in size. They have a wingspan of 2-3 in (5.5-8 cm). They are considered large-sized moths with a wide wingspan. The Atlas moth is the largest moth in the world with a wide wing.

How fast can an emperor moth fly?

The flying speed of the emperor moth is not calculated. Compared to female moths, the male moth flies faster. They have a wide wingspan.

How much does an emperor moth weigh?

The weight of an emperor moth is not estimated globally.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to the male and female species.

What would you call a baby emperor moth?

The baby emperor moth is known as the emperor moth larvae, which appear orange and black in color.

What do they eat?

Generally, moth caterpillars feed on plants such as blackthorn, bramble, apple (malus), heather. Adult male and female moths do not feed on host plant and, therefore, do not live long.

Are they dangerous?

The moth caterpillar can be dangerous, but not at a vast level. Economic loss is minimal and is categorized as a minor pest. The moth caterpillar might infect apple and pear plants, causing loss, but having a limited life span makes them less harmful and the outbreak caused is also minimal.

Pest controls like Carbaryl and chlorpyrifos are used in order to disinfect the plants during the season, especially in the months of April and May, as moth caterpillars are prominent in this particular phase.

Would they make a good pet?

No, emperor caterpillars would not make a good pet as they might infect the plants around them, especially apple and pear plants.

Did you know...

The emperor moth has three subspecies; Saturnia pavonia pavonia, Saturnia pavonia josephinae are mostly found in southern Spain and Morocco, whereas Saturnia pavonia colombiana is found in Ecuador and Colombia.

The pupa overwinters for almost six weeks.

The giant emperor moth (Saturnia pyri), a Japanese giant silkworm famous for silk (Caligula japonica), also belongs to the same family of Saturniidae as the emperor moth.

Some natural enemies of the emperor moth are Phyrxe vulgaris that preys on emperor larvae, Trichogramma telengai that preys on female moth eggs, and Agrothereutes saturniae that preys on the cocoon.

The emperor moth life cycle

Once the male and female moth breed, the eggs hatch within ten days. It takes five to six weeks to become a fully grown emperor caterpillars. The cocoon covers themselves with silk thread and takes six weeks (winter) to become an adult moth that flies around in the months of April and May.

How long does it take emperor moth eggs to hatch?

Female emperor moths lay eggs on the plant and those eggs are hatched within 10 days.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these gypsy moth fun facts and imperial moth interesting facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable corn earworm coloring pages.



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