‘World’s largest moth’ found hanging out on a garage in Washington, photos show

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The moth is usually only spotted in the tropics.

It’s burnt orange and bigger than an adult hand, and its species isn’t supposed to be flying around Washington.

A University of Washington professor, however, found one lurking on his Bellevue garage in July. It turned out to be the world’s largest moth, the state’s Department of Agriculture said.

Atlas moth compared to a man’s hand
Atlas moth compared to a man’s hand

“This is a ‘gee-whiz’ type of insect because it is so large,” Sven Spichiger, the department’s managing entomologist, said in a news release. “Even if you aren’t on the lookout for insects, this is the type that people get their phones out and take a picture of – they are that striking.”

Officials identified the moth spotted at the professor’s home as an atlas moth, which can have a wingspan of up to 10 inches.

“It is also a federally quarantined pest – meaning it is illegal to obtain, harbor, rear, or sell live moths whether adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae without a permit from USDA,” officials said.

Experts don’t know that the atlas moth can survive in Washington because it thrives in tropical environments.

There’s no evidence that other atlas moths are in Washington, but the Department of Agriculture is asking everyone to keep an eye out.

Residents should take a photo if they see another atlas moth in the area and contact pestprogram@agr.wa.gov.

“We hope residents will help us learn if this was a one-off escapee or whether there might indeed be a population in the area,” officials said.

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