Le Grand Paon de Nuit The Great Peacock - the Giant Emperor Moth - Latin Saturnia pyri
Its total wingspread is about 12 centimetres. It is the largest moth in Europe and found throughout France especially in the south and also in the Ardennes but does not reach Britain. Like most moths they sit with wings spread. Butterflies mostly sit with wings folded above the body. This one was unmoved either by us holding a camera within 20 cms. It was no doubt a female resting and waiting for the males which at night-time will flock in numbers to mate with her. I recall the tale told by the great French Entomologist Jean Henri Fabre "On the sixth of May I placed a female Great Peacock, freshly emerged from her cocoon under a wire-gauze cage. I do this as a rule because I am always expecting something unusual to happen. I am glad I did. At 9.0'clock in the evening as the family was retiring to bed, little Paul half undressed is rushing about calling 'Come quick and see these moths, big as birds.' I hurry in and see the room full of giant moths. I go to the kitchen where I find the servant, bewildered, flicking her apron at the moths which she took at first for bats. It seemed that the Great Peacock Moths had taken possession of the whole house." There were over forty male moths trying to locate the female.