Project Noah Moth of the Month: Tau Emperor (Aglia tau)

The Project Noah Moth of the Month for October is the Tau Emperor (Aglia tau), spotted by Project Noah member Daniele Pralong in Switzerland!

A male Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) spotted by Daniele Pralong.

A male Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) spotted by Daniele Pralong.

The Tau Emperor (Aglia tau) has a very interesting adult behavior. The males, with larger feathery antennae as pictured above, fly diurnally, while the females only fly at night. Although this may seem counterintuitive for the purposes of mating, mating actually occurs in the late morning. Females hide during the day, and the males “smell” the pheromone-releasing females with the chemoreceptors located in their antennae. This is ironically very efficient, keeping the females concealed from predators while ensuring the successful males are the most physically fit, chemically receptive individuals of the species.

Bibliography

  • Aglia tau.” http://tpittaway.tripod.com/silk/a_tau.htm
  • Pronin, Georg. “The Mating Time of Lepidoptera.” Journal of the Lepidopterists’ Society. 1964. Volume 18. Number 1. http://images.peabody.yale.edu/lepsoc/jls/1960s/1964/1964-18(1)35-Pronin.pdf

About Jacob Gorneau

Jacob Gorneau is an undergraduate student studying entomology at Cornell University.
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2 Responses to Project Noah Moth of the Month: Tau Emperor (Aglia tau)

  1. Jim Wright says:

    Very cool. Where was it photographed?

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