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Giant moths take flight at The Living Rainforest

The Living Rainforest in Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire is releasing the world’s largest moth into its steamy tropical glasshouses over the next couple of weeks.

The Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas), from South-east Asia, has a wingspan of 24 cm (9.5 inches) – larger than an average sparrow. The Atlas has a wing tip which resembles the head of a snake, with eyes and mouth to help scare away predators, and white wing patches which are see-through to help the moths blend in with the surrounding vegetation.

Also on show is the Indian Moon Moth (Actias selena), a green moth with a wingspan of up to 12 cm (5 inches). The Moon Moth emerges from its chrysalis with long wing tails, but these normally break off after the first flight.

Rather unusually, both moths lack mouth parts and only live for about 1-2 weeks.

Visitors can see the pupae of these amazing moths on display in a special viewing cabinet as they arrive at The Living Rainforest reception area. This is a very delicate stage of life for the moths, which emerge from their pupae with small shrivelled wings which need pumping up with fluid before the moths can take flight.

The moth’s protective cocoons are made of silk and look a little like Cuban cigars. In Taiwan, the silk from the cocoon of the Atlas Moth is sometimes used to make purses.

In addition to the giant moths, The Living Rainforest is also organising a host of fun-filled activities for October Half Term, including:

  • ‘Rainforest Harvest’ Tours (including a chocolate tasting session and a ‘Go Bananas’ event)
  • Halloween Workshops and a special ‘Halloween Fright Night’ evening event (pre-booking is needed on 01635 202444 ext 22)
  • Daily Keeper Talks or Activities

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 5:10 pm and is filed under News.

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