New York Natural Heritage Program
Imperial Moth
Eacles imperialis imperialis (Drury, 1773)

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Imperial moth is a large moth with a wingspan between 8 and 17.4 cm. It has yellow wings with spotting and shading variations of pink, orange, or purplish brown. Males tend to be more heavily marked than females, especially to the south (Covell 1984). A full grown larva is 75 to 100 mm long. There are two color variations: green and brown. The body has long whitish hairs. The second and third thoracic segments each have two stubby, rough "horns" and a rows of smaller spines along the rest of the body. There are large black and yellow plates on the last abdominal segment. Oval, yellow to cream spiracles are found on the sides. The brown variation has tan to reddish brown horns and spines. The pupa are large, spinose, and very active when handled (Tuskes et al. 1996). Large, yellow eggs are laid on either side of the foodplant singly or in small groups (Hyche 2000, Tuskes et al. 1996).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]

Behavior [-]
Adult males are very strong fliers. This species pupates underground in loose soil. It is very active when handled (Tuskes et al. 1996).

Diet [-]
Larval foodplants are many tree species including: basswood, birches, cedar, elms, maples, oaks, pines, and walnut.
Imperial Moth Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Imperial moths can be found May through July in the northern portion of its range. There is one brood each year (Covell 1984).
Present Active
The time of year you would expect to find Imperial Moth present (blue shading) and active (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis pini)
    The pini subspecies is smaller with more pink and has a strong postmedial line on the hindwing.