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Phalaena was the term employed by eighteenth-century naturalists when classifying silkworm, royal and other large moths, most of which are now classified as members of the family Saturniidae.

Saturniidae include the silkworm and royal moths. They are large moths found throughout the world that often have feathery antennae and have eyespots on their wings as a defence against predators.

The caterpillars of these moths generally have hairs, horns and armour. Some species have poisonous hairs of spines that can inflict a painful sting. They feed on many different varieties of trees and shrubs, and spin thick cocoons of silk.

Many species of Saturniidae are commonly called silkworm moths, but silk has traditionally been made commercially from the cocoons of Bombyx mori, a member of the Bombycidae family. Even so, in some cultures the cocoons of moths of the Saturniidae family are used to make thick strands of silk.


Prepared by: Turnbull, P.
Created: 4 November 2001
Modified: 1 December 2001

Published by South Seas, 1 February 2004
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: Paul.Turnbull@jcu.edu.au
Prepared by: Paul Turnbull
Updated: 28 June 2004
To cite this page use: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cs-ss-biogs-P000122

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