Cheshire Macro-Moths - Emperor Moth

A Female Emperor Moth (Pavonia pavonia) (Photo by: Steve J. McWilliam) The Emperor Moth - Pavonia pavonia Linnaeus

Imago / Adult:

The adult moth (imago) varies between 55mm and 85 mm wingspan with the female being invariably larger than the male. The ground colour is generally grey though in the male this is heavily suffused with purple, pink and orange. It is a resident moth which is single-brooded and normally flies throughout April and May. The male tends to fly by day and the female at night. A very localised moth in the Vice-Counties of Cheshire (VC-58) and South Lancashire (VC-59) where it is mainly associated with the Pennine fringes and areas of heathland. The moth, especially the female, comes readily to both MV and actinic light sources.


The larvae, usually 60 to 65mm in length, have a bright green body with black bands around the middle of each body segment. On these black bands grow hair bearing tunercles the ground colour of which can be white, yellow or purple. The hairs coming from these tubercles are jet black.


The foodplants are varied and tend to change depending upon the habitat the moth inhabits. For example on heathland and moorland its main foodplant is heather, whereas on coastal cliffs and woodland edges it tends to be more catholic in taste consuming bramble, blackthorn, sallow, hazel and meadowsweet.


The moth overwinters as a pupa (chrysalis) wrapped in a tough and fibrous, gingerish-brown cocoon spun up at ground level amongst the stems of low growing plants (e.g. heather), or occasionaly high up in the tops of the heather stems.












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