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Ailanthus Silkmoth

Common name for a large moth found in southeastern Asia and China, and named after its larvae's main food source, i.e. the leaves of the Tree of Heaven, known by the botanical designation Ailanthus altissima, and the fact that pupation takes place in a silken cocoon. This moth has a wingspan of around 10 to 13 centimeters, and is related to ‒and similar in appearance to‒ the giant Atlas Moth (fig.). Above the brownish wing have pink and whitish vertical smudgy stripes, a tawny banana-shaped spot on both the upper and lower wings, as well as dark-edged whitish stripes that spread outwards, starting from the moth's body. The latter stripes are absent on the underside of the wings. There are also some eyespots on the outer forewing tips. There are two kinds of this spescies, i.e. a light morph and a dark morph (fig.), and its scientific names include Samia cynthia and Samia canningi. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.