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The return of the titans

September 15, 2011

Do you remember yesterday’s blog with a photograph of a female atlas moth (Attacus atlas)? Well, at 13.00 yesterday I saw her mating with a smaller gentleman. She was still sitting on her cocoon in the avocado tree. Why would she leave? The males have impressive antennae to detect the pheromones emitted by the females. Like with humans, a pretty lady just has to sit and wait.

Since these beasts are nocturnal, seeing her mating at 1 p.m. means they must have engaged at night about 12 hours ago. The female is to the right.

They were still copulating at 22.30 later in the evening. The grey structure to the right of the brown leaf is the old cocoon. The male with his impressive antennae is here seen near the camera, the female is on the other side.

I turned out all lights at Dokmai Garden so we did not tempt her to sit under a lamp and get eaten by a gecko. Her important mission is to lay her precious eggs.

Also, I wish to emphasize these are in situ pictures of wild moths. They have not been reared or manipulated for this photograph. As long as you do not dip your garden in pesticides this is a fairly common sight here in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

Text and photo: Eric Danell

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2011 9:04 AM

    It is 9 am the following day (the 15th of September 2011) and the couple is still mating – incredible! That means 20 hours for sure based on observations, possibly 32 hours based on their nocturnal habits.

    Eric

  2. September 16, 2011 10:38 AM

    The end of the saga: the couple was still mating at 19.00, which means 30 hours of mating based on observations, possibly 45 hours as I did not see when they started and when they finished. By 22.00 they went for honeymoon.

  3. Martin Shim permalink
    September 18, 2011 7:01 PM

    Good capture Eric ! Early this year I also have a few larvae on my torch ginger. They are amazing .

    Martin

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