Lepidoptera The Emperor Moth – Saturnia Pavonia

Here is another family with but one British member; but in this, as in the last case, the only representative is a really beautiful insect. The male Pavonia is shown on Moth PhotosPlate X (fig. 8), and will need no written description as an aid to its identification. The female is larger, and similarly marked, but the ground colour of the wings is pale grey.

This moth is abundant almost everywhere, and may be looked for in the neighbourhood of heaths and woods early in the month of May.

The larva feeds on a large number of plants and trees, among which may be mentioned the willow (Salix alba), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), elder (Sambucus nigra), whitethorn (Cratagus oxyacantha), bramble (Rubus fruticosus), heaths (Erica tetralix and E. cinerea), and the meadow-sweet (Spiraa ulmaria). Its colour is a lovely green; and each segment has several pink tubercles, each surrounded by a black ring, and giving rise to a tuft of short black hairs. The spiracles are orange.

In the autumn it spins a pear-shaped cocoon of silk, open at the small end (fig. 28).

It may here be mentioned in passing that, in the case of some of the larger moths of the few preceding families, the young entomologist is likely to meet with larva more frequently than the perfect insect. These moths, however, are mostly very hardy and easily reared; and a beginner cannot do better than endeavour to obtain either ova or larva, in order that he may be able to watch the different species through their various stages.