Lev Bely, 26.01.2012 22:12
Every year since 2003 The Association for the Environment and Nature Protection of Germany (Bund fur Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland) chooses a butterfly or moth and announces it The Butterfly of the Year (Schmetterling des Jahres). This status is gained by some rare or declining species which has to be protected and sustained. Last year's butterfly was The Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). The Butterfly of the Year 2012 is The Small Emperor Moth (Saturnia pavonia) chosen by The Association together with The North Rhine-Westphalia Lepidopterists' Association (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Rheinisch-Westfalischer Lepidopterologen). The jury surveyed about 3700 local species, the most of those were moths and just 190 butterflies.
The Small Emperor Moth is known for its wings ornated with big eye-spots meant to make predators put off. Males are rather brightly colored in orange, white, pink and black while females are quite pale albeit notable for the wingspan which is about three inches larger compared to males.
In Germany Saturnia pavonia flies since April till May, imagoes don't feed in any way and live therefore just a few days after eclosion using reserves cumulated when being in a caterpillar stage. It's widely spread in Central and Northern Europe where the moth is common to meet in open fields, meadows, overgrown gardens as against cities, closed forests and cultivated agricultural landscapes.
The Small Emperor Moth population highly reduced in some German regions due to the landscape exhaustion and agricultural progress. The moth is included in the Vorwarnliste (IUCN Red List endangered species) as “a Near Threatened (NT)” taxon.
BUND NRW Naturschutzstiftung, http://www.bund-nrw-naturschutzstiftung.de
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