The moth is so heavy, it can hardly fly.
A massive moth that is practically never seen by humans was recently discovered on a construction site at an Australian school. The massive insect is so hefty that it can’t fly, and it only grows to its full size a few days before mating. Then it perishes.
Giant wood moths (Endoxyla cinereus) are the world’s largest species of moth. Females, which are roughly twice the size of males, can weigh up to 1 ounce (30 grams) and have a wingspan of 10 inches (25 centimeters) when fully grown, according to the Australian Museum. They can be found in forests throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The female giant wood moth was discovered on the construction site of a new school building near the edge of a rainforest by builders at Mount Cotton State School. The builders released the moth back into the wild after photographing it.
According to a school statement, Meagan Steward, the school’s principal, described it as “an amazing find,” but added that “they were not surprised” because they frequently have a wide range of animal visitors, including wallabies, koalas, ducks, snakes, tree frogs, possums, and turtles.
The larvae of these colossal insects, usually known as witchetty grubs, burrow into eucalyptus trees before reemerging as caterpillars that utilize silky threads to descend themselves to the ground and feed on the tree’s roots. According to the Australian Museum, the caterpillars then undergo a stunning metamorphosis and emerge in their massive final form.
After hatching, the smaller males can fly short distances to find females to mate with on the ground. If reproduction is successful, the female will lay approximately 20,000 small eggs, which hatch into witchetty grubs. According to the Australian Museum, the huge moths are rarely observed by people since they die rapidly following the energy-intensive reproductive process.
Because the school was closed when the moth was discovered, kids were unable to witness the massive insect up close. According to the school’s statement, photographs of the moth inspired a creative writing session that resulted in a story about a “giant moth invasion” that included their teacher “Mrs Wilson getting eaten.”
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