Is This a Japanese Giant Emperor Moth?

Toys and figurines are confused for real animals at surprising rate.

  • Published 10 April 2019


A photograph shows a Japanese Giant Emperor Moth.



In April 2019, an image supposedly showing a Japanese Giant Emperor Moth was passed around social media:

Although this photograph has often been presented as if it documented a large species of moth, it actually depicts a figurine made from embroidered fabric by artist Yumi Okita.

Okita describes her artwork as “a series of botanical and insect fiber sculptures. Hand painted cotton fabric that is embroidered with layers of threads creates texture and color. I try to capture the realism of nature then manipulated into the world of imagination.”

Okita stated this particular piece to be “6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.” The wings are made from hand-painted fabric embroidered with a “layer of thread creating texture and depth and color.”

A number of similar “fabric sculptures” can be seen on Okita’s Etsy page:

Although this viral image does not show a Japanese Giant Emperor Moth, it was inspired by a genuine species of moth called the Hemileuca eglanterina, or sheep moth. Okita noted that while she tries to capture the realism of nature, she adds a bit of imagination into her pieces.

Here’s a glimpse of an actual sheep moth:

As far as we can tell no species known as the “Japanese Giant Emperor Moth” exists, although the Japanese giant silkworm moth and the Japanese emperor butterfly do. Here’s a look at the silkworm (left) and the butterfly (right):
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