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68.001 (BF1643)

Emperor Moth   

Saturnia pavonia
Adult: 1
Resident. Common.

See also Moth of the Week (30/04/2019)


Unmistakable. Smaller male with feathered antennae easily distinguished from larger female and can be recorded.

Life cycle

One generation. Overwinters as a pupa attached to a plant stem at ground level. Eggs are laid in batches, attached to the foodplant. Larvae are present mid-June to early September, resting in groups in exposed situations.

Larval foodplants

Larvae feed on heather and other woody plants such as Hawthorn, Blackthorn, sallows and birches. Also Meadowsweet and Bramble.


Mostly moorland, heathland and bogs.

History 1860-2010

Lennon (1860) stated he had bred eight on, presumably from larvae he had collected from around Dumfries while out rambling. By 1863, Lennon found it was generally distributed. W. Douglas Robinson (1870-71) had found one larva during August at Cloke Moss (VC73). Gordon (1913) also said it was common and generally distributed on the moors, with males on the wing from 3 pm to 4 pm. On one patch of heather he counted 19 nearly full-fed larvae near Corsemalzie on 18th August 1910. Earliest date was 11th April 1899.

MOGBI (1992) recorded it as widespread across the region, and that is still the case during the first ten years of the 21st century. Our larvae records are from mid-June to early September with a pupa record for late April.

360 record(s) from 66 hectad(s) in D&G

VC74 VC73 VC72
Last recorded 2021 2022 2022
68.001 Emperor Moth
68.001 Emperor Moth

 UK Moths website - further information on species (with photos)

 East Scotland Butterfly Conservation website - national distribution maps and phenology

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