The Madagascan sunset moth
or simply sunset moth
, Chrysiridia rhipheus
, is a day-flying moth
of the Uraniidae
family. It is considered to be one of the most impressive and beautiful Lepidoptera
. Famous worldwide, it is featured in most coffee table books
on the Lepidoptera and is much sought after by collectors. It is very colourful, though the iridescent
parts of the wings
do not have pigment; rather the colours originate from optical interference
. Adult moths have a wingspan of 7–9 centimetres (2.8–3.5 in).
The moth was considered to be a butterfly by Dru Drury, who described it in 1773 and placed it in the genus Papilio. Jacob Hübner placed it in the moth genus Chrysiridia in 1823. Later redescriptions led to junior synonyms such as Chrysiridia madagascariensis (Lesson, 1831). At first the moth was thought to be from China or Bengal, but was later found to be endemic to Madagascar. It is found throughout the year in most parts of the island, with peak populations between March and August, and smallest numbers between October and December.