The Emperor Moths (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) of Papua Indonesia
by Stefan Naumann
Emperor Moths are among the largest and most showy moths in the world. The largest species known are the Indo-Australian hercules moths (Coscinocera) (see picture) and atlas moths (Attacus and Archaeoattacus). Very typical for most Saturniidae are the more or less coloured eyespots or transparent “windows“ in their wings. Some species possess very prominent tails on their hindwings. All species have a reduced or missing proboscis, and thus, are unable to take up food. During its short life-span the moth depends entirely on the fat reserves which were stored during the larval stages. This is a reason why they have quite voluminous bodies. In many species a pronounced sexual dimorphism occurs: males always have pectinate, „feathered“ antennae while those of the females are thinner and sometimes without pectination. Females are mostly larger, have more rounded wings, and a larger abdomen, containing the already developed eggs. Most species live in tropical regions, with the majority in the Neotropics. So far about 1500 valid species are known world-wide but many species still await description. For the whole island of New Guinea around 25 species are known although much more names exist which partly are considered to be synonyms. All genera are currently not revised, so a definitive estimation is almost impossible for the moment. Several others await their description.
Emperor moths have some economic importance to man: Several species are reared for silk which is produced by the larvae while spinning the cocoon. Those are mainly Asian species of the genera Samia and Antheraea. In Africa the “Mopane Worm” is very famous. It is the caterpillar of Imbrasia (Gonimbrasia) belina WESTWOOD, 1849, feeding on Mopane trees. In many African countries the caterpillars are collected in large quantities, dried and used to supply proteins for human consumption.
This page is under constant construction. This means that at any time new species can be added. Please check this page now and then for more information.
The family Saturniidae is currently classified into 9 subfamilies of which Saturniinae is the only one respresented in Papua Indonesia, with the tribus Attacini (Attacus Linnaeus, 1767, Coscinocera Butler, 1879 and Samia Hübner, ) and tribus Saturniini (Syntherata Maassen, 1873, Opodiphthera Wallengren, 1858, Neodiphthera Fletcher, 1982, Pararhodia Cockerell, 1914 and Cricula Walker, 1855).
Listed Papua species: 48 (of which some taxa might turn out to be synonyms). Species mentioned in grey have not been recorded in Indonesian New Guinea yet.
Attacus Linnaeus, 1767
atlas Linnaeus, 1758
aurantiacus Rothschild, 1895
Coscinocera Butler, 1879
eurystheus Rothschild, 1898
butleri Rothschild, 1895
anteus Bouvier, 1927
joiceyi Bouvier, 1927
Samia Hübner, 
ceramensis (Bouvier, 1927)
Syntherata Maassen, 1873
anettae Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
antipoda Boisduval, 1875
apicalis Bouvier, 1928
aliena Niepelt, 1934
bettinae Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
bretschneideri Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
brunnea Eckerlein, 1935
devosi Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
erici Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
groenendaeli Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
lilianae Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
marlenae Naumann, Lane & Löffler, 2009
Opodiphthera Wallengren, 1858
sciron (Westwood, 1881)
pristina Walker, 1865 ?
monacha Staudinger, 1920 ?
foucheri Bouvier, 1926
intermedia Bouvier, 1928
joiceyi Bouvier, 1928
talboti Bouvier, 1928
grisea (Bouvier, 1928)
jurriaansei van Eecke, 1933
gazella (Niepelt, 1934)
strandi (Niepelt, 1934)
elleri Eckerlein, 1935 status doubtful
Neodiphthera Fletcher, 1982
albicera ( Rothschild & Jordan, 1907)
papuana (Rothschild, 1904)
venusta (Rothschild & Jordan, 1907)
strigata (Bethune-Baker, 1908)
nigroculata (Bouvier, 1928)
goodgeri (D’Abrera, 1998)
schaarschmidti Brechlin, 2005
habemana Brechlin, 2005
Pararhodia Cockerell, 1914
gyra (Rothschild & Jordan, 1905)
meeki (Jordan, 1908)
acuminalba (Van Eecke, 1924)
daviesorum Lemaire, 1979
rotalis Paukstadt, Paukstadt & Suhardjono, 1992
setekwa D'Abrera, 1998 status doubtful
hiltrautae Naumann, 2013
ulrichi Naumann, 2013
Cricula Walker, 1855
trifenestrata (Helfer, 1837) [introduced species!]
checklist updated on 7th October 2013
Naumann, S., D. Lane & S. Löffler, 2009. Some new species of the Indo-Australian genus Syntherata from the Island of New Guinea (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae). Prírodovedné studie Muzea Prostejovska 10-11: 43-65.
Naumann, S., 2013. Notes on the genus Pararhodia Cockerell, 1914 with description of two new species from mainland of New Guinea (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae). SUGAPA 8(1): 1-10.