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Hyalophora columbia f.JPG
Female Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia: Attacini)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Euarthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Saturniidae
Subfamily: Saturniinae
and see text

The Saturniinae or saturniines are a subfamily of the family Saturniidae.[1] They are commonly known as emperor moths or wild silk moths. They are easily spotted by the eyespots on the upper surface of their wings. Some exhibit realistic eye-like markings, whilst others have adapted the eyespots to form crescent moon or angular shapes or have lost their wing scales to create transparent windows. They are medium to very large moths, with adult wingspans ranging from 7.5 to 15 cm, in some cases even more.

The saturniine genera, approximately 169 in number, are divided into four major and one minor (Micragonini) tribes, and divided into nine subfamilies. The genus Adafroptilum presently consists of a group of species with undetermined relationships.

Adults in the Saturniinae typically live about 5–12 days and are mostly nocturnal, excluding males in four of the subfamilies. The moths do not eat during their short lives and their mouths are not fully formed. In some species of Saturniinae, there is unmistakable sexual dimorphism. The females in these subfamilies can weigh almost double that of the males, are larger in size, and have larger wings.[2]

The Saturniinae's eggs are oblong and are laid flat against each other in clusters. Once hatched, the larval period lasts about 78 days. They typically pass through five larval instars (excluding egg, pupa and adult), although some may have more. The pupal stage takes place in an often yellowish cocoon. In this stage, they resemble small wooden barrels in shape and color.[3]

Genera and selected species[edit]

A "mopane worm", the edible caterpillar of Gonimbrasia belina (Bunaeini)
Syntherata janetta of the Saturniini

Tribe Attacini

Tribe Bunaeini Packard, 1902

Tribe Micragonini Cockerell in Packard, 1914

Tribe Saturniini Boisduval, 1837

Tribe Urotini

Incertae sedis


  1. ^ Savela, Markku. "Saturniinae". Lepidoptera and Some Other Life Forms. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Albertoni, Fabiano F.; Mielke, Carlos G. C.; Duarte, Marcelo; Albertoni, Fabiano F.; Mielke, Carlos G. C.; Duarte, Marcelo (July 19, 2018). "Saturniid moths (Lepidoptera: Bombycoidea) from an Atlantic Rain Forest fragment in southeastern Brazil". Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências. 90 (3): 2827–2844. doi:10.1590/0001-3765201820170629. ISSN 0001-3765.
  3. ^ Moraes, S. S.; Otero, L. S.; Freitas, A. V. L. (December 16, 2016). "Natural History and Comparative Morphology of Immatures of Gamelia anableps (C. Felder & R. Felder) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae, Hemileucinae)". Neotropical Entomology. 46 (4): 397–408. doi:10.1007/s13744-016-0473-z. ISSN 1519-566X.