Atlas moth sighting: One of the world’s largest moths spotted in Washington state, first time it’s been spotted in US, researchers say

BELLEVUE, Wash. (KABC) — Scientists in Washington state discovered one of the world’s largest known moths and they say it’s the first time it’s been spotted in the US

The single Atlas moth was discovered last month in Bellevue, just east of Seattle, and is roughly 10 inches wide. The creature is usually found in Asia and is considered a tropical moth.

Washington State Department of Agriculture

It’s unclear how it traveled to the US or if it can even survive the city’s climate.

“This is a ‘gee-whiz’ type of insect because it is so large,” said Sven Spichiger, a managing entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, in a statement released earlier this month. “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.”

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The agency said the moths do not pose a threat to the general public’s health.

It’s asking people to report sightings, which will help determine if the creature is traveling alone, or if there is in fact a population in the area.

Researchers say the Atlas moth has a wingspan of up to almost 10 inches and is also a federally quarantined pest – meaning it’s illegal to obtain, harbor, rear, or sell live moths whether adults, eggs, larvae, or pupae without a permit from USDA .

The WSDA said while there is minimal research about the moth, entomologists believe host plants may include apple and cherry.

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