- Argema mittrei, or ‘comet moth’. Illustration by Adolphe Millot (1857-1921), c. 1905. From Wikipedia Commons.
Today’s Public Domain image is of a beautiful comet moth. This is taken from an illustration for the Le Petit Larousse Illustré, a French reference book published in 1905. It was compiled and published by Pierre Larousse, and bears his name. It is both a dictionary and an encyclopedia. [There was a revival of it in 2005, the 100th anniversary. A modern Petit Larousse 2007 was published in 2006.]
Many of the natural history illlustrations for the 1905 edition were done by Adolphe Philippe Millot, who was a French painter, lithographer and entomologist (someone who studies insects). He was the senior illustrator at Muséum National D’histoire Naturelle (the National Museum of Natural History) of France.
His illustrations of moths and butterflies are especially beautiful. This particular illustration was originally part of a larger page showing a wide variety of moths and butterflies.
The agrema mittrei, or ‘Madagascaran Comet Moth’, is a variety of African moon moth and the one of world’s largest moths, with a wing span of 20 cm [8 inches]. It is an endangered species, living in the wild only on Madagascar (as the name implies) though they have been bred in captivity. As a caterpillar it feeds only eucalyptus leaves. It then makes a silk cocoon that has holes in it to prevent the caterpillar / moth from drowning when it rains during the two to six months they are in it! After this long time in the cocoon, the adult moths only live 4 or 5 days, and can only reproduce on the first day! (Thus one of the reasons it is hard to breed them in captivity, though a few zoos have been successful…)
Click on the image to see / download it full-sized.
P.S. I welcome comments on the illustrations in my blog and emails about images you might like to see. There will be a delay before your comment appears because I have to ‘approve’ it – otherwise this blog would be filled with spam [I keep getting online casinos trying to automatically leave blog comments that I have to trash]. So give me a day and it should appear. I won’t trash you even for a negative comment either – only for swearing or obvious spam. – B
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