PHOTO: World’s Largest Moth Found in the U.S. for First Time, and It’s Absolutely Huge

by Jonathan Howard

If it isn’t one thing it’s another in the great outdoors. One of the largest species of moth was found in Washington state recently. The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced the news and is going to turn to the public for further help. If there are more sightings then it might be cause for investigation.

The atlas moth is a beautiful and very large insect. With a wingspan of 10 inches, the moth is massive compared to many of the tiny flying drones we see at night. I think my cats would be very delighted if they came across this bug, or perhaps terrified.

This is the first time, at least it is believed to be, that the atlas moth has been seen in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture identified the moth after it was sent in. An entomologist for Washington state talked about the strange find.

“This is a ‘gee-whiz’ type of insect because it is so large,” Sven Spichiger said. “Even if you aren’t on the lookout for insects, this is the type that people get their phones out and take a picture of – they are that striking.”

Hopefully, that instinct to photograph the large insect helps the department moving forward. More sightings could be expected in the near future. While it is out of place, if a population exists, the agriculture department wants to know. Washington is not where one would expect to see this creature, either. Some things just don’t add up.

Atlas Moth is a Tropical Insect

When it comes down to it, what has agriculture and wildlife folks a little perplexed – why is the atlas moth in Washington state? This insect does not come from areas like the Pacific Northwest. Spichiger pointed that out while explaining some details about the moth. It isn’t everyday you get to see something so out of place.

“This is normally a tropical moth,” he continued. “We are not sure it could survive here. We hope residents will help us learn if this was a one-off escapee or whether there might indeed be a population in the area.”

If there is a population, then things are going to change a bit. Many questions will pop up like why? How did they get there? Are they able to sustain a population in the area without endangering what is native in Washington? That’s hard to say.

There really isn’t a lot known about the moth. So, this could be a fun investigation for officials and entomologists. It would be interesting to find out something more interesting about the inset if possible. What they do know is these atlas moths like to use cherry and apple trees as host plants.