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14th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
MATING PAIR OF ATLAS MOTHS

LOVE TO DEATH: The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), arguably the world’s largest moth in terms of wingspan at 9 to 12 inches, does not eat during its adult stage. For the male of this charismatic species, a meal could just be one of the distractions from its ultimate goal – to find a mate! During the caterpillar stage, it accumulates enough fat reserves to fly long distances to find a mate. A nonexistent diet, coupled with a long journey, results in an enormous loss of strength for the male. Once he finds his lady-love, he hooks on to her dearly for several hours. His energy reserved now sapped and his wings tattered and dull, he falls to the forest floor after the mating is complete, having sacrificed his life for love. The female flies off to find a suitable plant to lay her fertilised eggs.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2016
Date Uploaded: 11.2016
Photo Location: Mumbai, India
Copyright: © Rizwan Mithawala