The Emperor Moth of the heather moorland of Scotland


The female emperor moth has grey wings, with an eye-like spot on each wing. The male is smaller and more brown in colour. The wing length is 21–35mm.


Emperor moths are well camouflaged amongst the heather. When the moth is at rest its wings open flat. When threatened, the emperor moth vibrates its wings using the eye spots to startle predators, giving the moth a chance to escape.


Unlike most other moths the emperor moth is active during the day.

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The caterpillar of the emperor moth grows to 60mm long. The caterpillar is bright green with black bristles and bands of black circles.  The caterpillar is well camouflaged, especially in heather which is its main food plant.  The emperor moth is found throughout Scotland, although it is not found on the Shetland Isles or on the Isle of Lewis. The emperor moth lives in heather moorland and open woodland. The heather moorland of Scotland, where most of the moths live, is decreasing in area.


A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth and took it home so he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. One day a small opening appeared. The man sat and watched the moth for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. To the man it appeared as if the moth had gotten as far as it could in breaking out of the cocoon and was stuck.

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Out of kindness the man decided to help the moth. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon so that the moth could get out. Soon the moth emerged, but it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings. The man continued to watch the moth, expecting that in time the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would simultaneously contract to its proper size.


Neither happened. In fact, that little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shrivelled wings. It was never able to fly.

The man in his kindness and haste didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings so that the moth would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.


Just as the moth could only achieve freedom and flight as a result of struggling, we often need to struggle to become all God intends for us to be. Sometimes we wish that God would remove our struggles and take away all the obstacles; but just as the man crippled the emperor moth, so we would be crippled if God did that for us. God doesn’t take away our problems and difficulties, but he promises to be with us in the midst of them and to use them to restore us, making us into better, stronger people. (See 1 Peter 5:10.)



This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Trudi White

    Thanks Tony, just what I needed today, praising the Lord that there is hope and learning through our struggles.

  2. b

    was this one of the 2×2 onto the ark ……….. or perhaps the duck billed platypus … or an armadillo … jaguar … llama … cause i’m quite sure that australia and south america weren’t ‘invented’ in Noah’s days ……..900 thousand different types of insect alone that’s 1800 thousand on the boat … thats also a lot of boxes to put them all in … approximately 10 thousand different birds … so thats 20 thousand … how big was the boat again ?

    1. Tony Anthony

      How did Noah fit all of those animals on the ark? Was the ark big enough to fit “two of every kind… of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind,” and seven of some kinds? What about food? There had to be enough room to store enough food to last Noah and his family (8 in all), plus all of the animals, at least a year (see Genesis 7:11; 8:13-18) and maybe more, depending on how long it took for vegetation to grow back. That’s a lot of food! What about drinking water? Is it realistic to believe that Noah’s boat was big enough to store all of these animals and all of this food and water for over a year?

      The dimensions for the ark given in Genesis are 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high (Genesis 6:15). What is a cubit? A cubit is an ancient unit of measurement, the length of the forearm from the elbow to the longest finger (the term “cubit” comes from the Latin word “cubitum” which means “elbow.” The Hebrew word for “cubit” is “ammah.” As everybody’s arms are different lengths, this unit may seem a bit ambiguous to some, but scholars generally agree that it represents somewhere between 17 and 22 inches (43-56 centimeters). The ancient Egyptian cubit is known to have been 21.888 inches. So, doing the math,

      300 x 22 inches = 6,600; 50 x 22 inches = 1,100; 30 x 22 inches = 660
      6,600/12 = 550 feet; 1100/12 = 91.7 feet; 660/12 = 55 feet.

      Thus, the ark could have been up to 550 feet long, 91.7 feet wide and 55 feet high. These are not unreasonable dimensions. But how much storage space does this amount to? Well, 550 x 91.7 x 55 = 2,773,925 cubic feet. (If we take the smallest measurement of cubit, 17 inches, we end up with 1,278,825 cubic feet). Of course, not all of it would have been free space. The ark had three levels (Genesis 6:16) and a lot of rooms (Genesis 6:14), the walls of which would have taken up space. Nevertheless, it has been calculated that a little more than half (54.75%) of the 2,773,925 cubic feet could store 125,000 sheep-sized animals, leaving over 1.5 million cubic feet of free space (see –

      John Woodmorappe, author of the definitive Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, estimated that only about 15% of the animals on the ark would have been larger than a sheep. This figure does not take into account the possibility that God may have brought Noah “infant” animals, which can be significantly smaller than adult animals.

      How many animals were on the ark? Woodmorappe estimates about 16,000 “kinds.” What is a “kind”? The designation of “kind” is thought to be much broader than the designation “species.” Even as there are over 400 dog breeds all belonging to one species (Canis familiaris), so many species can belong to one kind. Some think that the designation “genus” may be somewhat close to the biblical “kind.”

      Nevertheless, even if we presume that “kind” is synonymous with “species,” “there are not very many species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. The leading systematic biologist, Ernst Mayr, gives the number as 17,600. Allowing for two of each species on the ark, plus seven of the few so-called “clean” kinds of animals, plus a reasonable increment for known extinct species, it is obvious that not more than, say, 50,000 animals were on the ark” (Morris, 1987).

      Some have estimated that there were as many as 25,000 kinds of animals represented on the ark. This is a high-end estimation. With two of each kind and seven of some, the number of animals would exceed 50,000, though not by very much, relatively speaking. Regardless, whether there were 16,000 or 25,000 kinds of animals, even with two of each and seven of some, scholars agree that there was plenty of room for all of the animals on the ark, plus food and water with room to spare.

      What about all of the excrement produced by all of these animals? How did 8 people manage to feed all of those animals and deal with tons of excrement on a daily basis? What about animals with specialized diet? How did plant-life survive? What about insects? There are a thousand other questions like these which could be raised, and they are all good questions. In the minds of many, these questions are unanswerable. But they are certainly nothing new. They have been asked over and over for centuries. And in all of that time researchers have sought answers. There are now numerous, very scholarly feasibility studies which have put Noah and his ark to the test.

      With over 1,200 scholarly references to academic studies, Woodmorappe’s book is “a modern systematic evaluation of the alleged difficulties surrounding Noah’s Ark” (John Woodmorappe, “A Resource for Answering the Critics of Noah’s Ark,” Impact No. 273, March 1996. Institute for Creation Research, 30 January 2005 Woodmorappe claims that after years of systematically examining all of the questions which have been raised, “all of the arguments against the Ark are… found wanting. In fact, the vast majority of the anti-Ark arguments, at first superficially plausible, turn out to be easily invalidated.”

  3. lilly

    thank you so much for helping with my project

  4. Antosa Isherwood

    Most enjoyable facts about the Emperor Moth in its natural habitat amidst the Scottish Heather.
    Thank you!
    Ps loved the story too!:)

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