The Moths of Suffolk
1643 Emperor Moth, Saturnia pavonia, (Linnaeus, 1758)

National Status : Common

Local Status : Resident (SMP Status 1)

Distribution and abundance : Common in the Sandlings and Brecks

Habitats : Heathland, fens, woodland and hedgerows

Flight Period : Single-brooded, April and May, with odd records in June and July

Larval foodplants : Heather, Bramble, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Birch and other woody plants

Comments : The males are a common daytime sight flying across the heathlands during the spring, with the females attracted to light at night.

Morley's Final Catalogue : Not uncommon here up to 1890, larvae abundant in Belton bog before 1834 (Paget); now a good deal scarcer, though still widely distributed; not often seen flying, though the splendid larva occurs on many heaths and, in marshes, feeds on Epilobium. Scarce at Sudbury (Ransom); larvae at Copdock in Aprils 1897-8 (Hkg); male flying in Felixstowe Avenue, 5 May 1894 (Mly); Ipswich in 1893; male at Needham in 1929 (Platt6n) ; Aldeburgh (Hele), larvae on Blythburgh heath in July 1922 (DM); rare at Beccles, flying on 4 May l936, &c. (Gls) ; Gorleston and Belton heath in June 1925 (Mr) and female at latter in early May 1933 (Rumbelow). Cocoons in Brandon staunch osier-carr in June 1903 (Chitty); &c., in west Suffolk.

Wingspan details : Forewing male 27-32mm, female 35-41mm, Wingspan 55-85mm

Identification

Confusion species : None


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Female - Suffolk (2004) © P Bryant

Flight chart
JFMAMJJASOND
75 100 4 2

Life history chart
JFMAMJJASOND
pupa pupa pupa pupaimago ovapupaimago ovalarvaimago larva larvapupa pupa pupa pupa pupa

Further Photographs

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Male - Suffolk (2004) © P Bryant
Female - Ipswich, Suffolk (iv.2002) © N Sherman
Found by day on Heather - Ipswich, Suffolk (viii.2002) © N Sherman
 
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Ipswich, Suffolk (iv.2007) © Neil Sherman
Mating pair. - Ipswich, Suffolk (iv.2007) © Neil Sherman
Female - VC25, Burgh Castle, Suffolk (14.v.2010) © Brian Jones
 
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Netted by day flying over Heather - Granish Moor, Inverness-shire (30.iv.2011) © Neil Sherman
Reared from eggs laid by female - Hertfordshire (v.2014) © Neil Sherman
Female, ex ova - hatched April 2015 - Hertfordshire (v.2014) © Neil Sherman
 
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Male (attracted to virgin female) close up of head - Ipswich, Suffolk (21.iv.2015) © Neil Sherman