Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules)

Family Saturniidae  (Tropical North Queensland, New Guinea)

The adult moth has a wingspan of ca. 27 cm it is the largest moth found in Australia and one of the largest in the world. The 1st instar caterpillars are however astonishingly tiny and incredible cute! They will go through 6 larval stages and grow to 12cm with a weight of up to 30g before they spin cocoons and pupate in a long double-walled silk cocoon.  (I found reports of some captive bred individuals that apparently had reached almost 15cm and 53g.)

The adult moth lives only a few days (4-5). The caterpillar can however live up to 3 months. The grow rapidly. These caterpillars went from hatching to 5th instar in only 5 weeks. Growth will however be strongly influenced by temperature and food availability.

The caterpillars feed on various rainforest trees but prefer those of the Bleeding Heart tree (Omalanthus nutans).  Other accepted foods include Celery Wood ( Polyscias elegans), Tree of Heaven ( Ailanthus altissima), Cheese Tree ( Glochidion ferdinandi), Red Bean (Dysoxylum muelleri), Black Cherry ( Prunus serotina) and Queensland Apple ( Timonius rumphii).

In captivity caterpillars have been successfully raised on Walnut ( Juglans regia), Privet ( Ligustrum vulgare), Lilac ( Syringa sp.), Willow ( Salix sp.)  and Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima).

Caterpillars also need to drink.

The adult moths do not feed as they have no mouthparts.


The eggs are tiny and orange in color. They seem to resemble leaf galls in size and color.  The female glues them single or in small clumps onto (or in proximity to)  suitable host plants.  After about 2 weeks tiny caterpillars hatch.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , eggs, freshly hatched caterpillars

1st instar

1st instar Hercules Moth caterpillars have a thick coating of wax which makes them almost entirely white. They have regular black bands and a black head.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 1st instar caterpillar

2nd instar

white with some brown areas and a brown head.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 2nd instar caterpillar

3rd instar

start to show a blue shade in the white, no brown specs anymore. The spiracles and the false eye patches are however clearly visible now. The head is bluish/white too.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 3rd instar caterpillar

4th instar

light blue green with long yellow spikes and red spiracles. The head is blue-green with white stripes.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 4th instar caterpillar Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 4th instar caterpillar

5th instar

Spikes are shorter now and colors even more vibrant.

Hercules Moth (Coscinocera hercules) , 5th instar caterpillar



 6th instar



The caterpillars of the Hercules moth pupate in a long double-walled silk cocoon.


The adults don’t feed and live only for a few days. Both, male and female can fly. However the more lightly built male will search for the female and do the flying. The female will emit pheromones to attract a male. These scent molecules can be detected by the male over large distances.

Males have long wing tails and feathery antennae. Females are heavier set and have no wing tails.

If you would love to raise this magnificent and fascinating moth, please contact us. Only serious inquiries please.


Please email for expression of interest   insectopia@online.ms