Emperor Moth

Saturnia pavonia


The Emperor Moth is a widespread, but never very common, moth of heathland, moorland, woodland rides, sand dunes and grassland scrub. A very large moth, the female has a wingspan of up to 10cm; the male is smaller, with large feathery antennae. During the day, males can be seen flying swiftly about and can be mistaken for butterflies. The females rest in low vegetation during the day, releasing a special scent to attract males. The caterpillars feed on woody plants such as heather, Bramble and Blackthorn, and overwinter as chrysalides, sometimes for two winters.

How to identify

Unmistakeable: a beautiful, fluffy moth which is grey-brown with big peacock-like eyespots on all four wings and pinky-red markings at the wingtips. It is the only large moth with eyespots on all four wings. The smaller Eyed Hawk-moth has two large eyespots on the hindwings only.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • March
  • April
  • May

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many heathland, grassland and coastal habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of moths, including the Emperor Moth. We are also working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We have a vision of a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Emperor Moth
Latin name
Saturnia pavonia
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan of male: 5-6cm Wingspan of female: up to 10cm
Conservation status