Tropical Swallowtail Moth from Singapore: Will it be a banner year for sightings???

Ed. Note:  Please submit images of Tropical Swallowtail Moths using our Ask What’s That Bug? link.

Subject: What’s that moth?
Location: Singapore
May 18, 2014 10:54 pm
Three of the same variety of moths flew into my house on the 16th floor last night at 9pm. I live in Singapore (South East Asia). It’s large, about 21cm wide. While I have had moths visiting before, I’ve never had three visitors of the same kind, especially since I live in a very densely populated housing area. Does this particular species travel in groups? The photos I have attached are pictures of the same moth from different angles.
Signature: Sodaprincess

Tropical Swallowtail Moth
Tropical Swallowtail Moth

Dear Sodaprincess,
This Tropical Swallowtail Moth,
Lyssa zampa, is a species found throughout Southeast Asia.  According to Habitat News which last reported significant sightings in 2010:  “In May 2005, Singapore witnessed the widespread occurrence of adult Lyssa zampa, the large, nocturnal white-striped moth known variously as the ‘Tropical Swallowtail Moth’ and the ‘Giant Uranid Moth’. I recalled incidents from my youth when these large moths used to appear seasonally in Singapore on damp nights. Veteran biologist Kok Oi Yee, agreed, saying the moth used to appear in large numbers in Singapore back in the 1960’s and she was sure it used to happened between May to July.  Not in recent years though. With urbanisation reducing forest cover and the number of areas near forests in Singapore, perhaps it is not surprising there are fewer observations of large numbers of moths. This outbreak had us discussing the climate and the food plant, reportedly a species of Endospermum but we could not say much beyond speculation.”  Large numbers of Tropical Swallowtail Moths appear cyclically, and in certain years there are significant population explosions resulting in numerous sightings.  Otterman Speaks reported a sighting this past April.

Some Questions about the Tropical Swallowtail Moth
May 20, 2014 9:45 pm
Good day,
1) I would just like to know how do you tell the difference between a male and female
tropical swallowtail moth Lyssa zampa  (Lepidoptera: Uraniidae) ?
2) Do males and females have different period where they emerge from their chryslis?
3) What do they feed on?
Thank you,
Signature: Hui Min

Dear Hui Min,
We have added your questions to the featured posting of the Tropical Swallowtail Moth.  We have already gotten several comments, including a report that about thirty individual were sighted at The National Library Building in Singapore.  We will attempt to research your questions.

43 thoughts on “Tropical Swallowtail Moth from Singapore: Will it be a banner year for sightings???”

  1. I saw a swallow tail moth in my apartment as well! I’ve never seen a moth so HUGE!! It was just hanging out on my balcony window, and it was beautiful. As with ‘sodaprincess’, I live in Singapore.

    Reply
  2. I interacted with a Tropical Swallowtail Moth this morning at my condo in Tiong Barhu. It ended up in my lift so I had to catch and release on the way to work. An amazing animal!

    Reply
  3. You can see plenty of them at the National Library Building in Victoria Street, Singapore. They are all over the window panes. On 19 May, I spotted easily at least 30 of these species.

    Reply
  4. I sighted one at the basement car park of my estate in Mountbatten area, Singapore. Another just flew into my living room. It’s pretty small- about 10cm wing span. Have been getting a lot of species of moths in my apartment lately. I guess May is breeding season for moths?

    Reply
  5. My sons were excited to see this huge moth in the corridor outside our apartment (Punggol, in the north-east of Singapore).
    The increase in sightings is thought to be related to bird migration periods and weather.
    Whatever the cause, these creatures are wonderful to see.

    Reply
  6. One of these gorgeous moths has been in my garden off Dunearn Road for a few days now. I hope he stays longer. Such a treat! I don’t think I can get a photo of him but if I do I’ll post it here.

    Reply
  7. oh just great you guys enjoy the beauty – I have a PHOBIA of Moths and flying insects, ill have to be vigilant and pray it does not fly anywhere near me.

    Reply
    • Dear Moth Phobia, I too cannot enjoy nor appreciate “the wonders of nature” when it comes to moths, butterflies & lizards and to make it worse off, these species flew into my flat in Singapore on 2 occasions while I had to hide in my room almost the whole day. 🙁

      Reply
  8. Hi, I did saw it in my gals school when fetching them at sengkang, 1 big one inside of International Plaza Bldg. First time ever saw it. My GaL says they are so beautiful.

    Reply
  9. They`re everywhere! It is like the most beautiful moth i`ve seen. They`re everywhere, even in sota. My friends are scared of this moth due to it`s size and they think it`ll bite but i`ve told them otherwise. May i ask, Does it come every year? because for the past few years i`ve only sighted a few of them here and there and not at a particular time of the year.

    Reply
    • Like many insects, the lifespan of a Tropical Swallowtail Moth is short, under a year from egg to adult, so each year there is a new generation. Some years there are larger populations than other years, and all indications are that this year will result in one of the highest populations in recent years.

      Reply
  10. I’ve just witnessed a female lyssa zampa in my school in Tampines a few days ago. Unfortunately, one of the wings was bitten by birds, so me and my classmates brought her to the eco garden (in school).

    Reply
  11. I saw two of these wonderful moths just outside my office window in Raffles Place. Another two just a floor below. I saw another one clinging on one sign of Burger King outlet near our building. All in all I have at least seven sightings of these curious moths (Four of them just near our flat). Alas, I also saw a couple of these moth’s wings scattered on the floor near our place like something ripped the poor creature apart. 🙁

    So far, of my years of stay here in Singapore, this is my first time to see such species of moths.

    Reply
  12. I’ve seen these huge moth 4 times this May. Unfortunately only 1 of these i saw was alive. Today i saw one of it in the MRT, dead. Do most of the mothes die in S’pore?

    Reply
    • Many moths die within a few days or weeks naturally, but when there are large numbers of them, many will meet with untimely ends through accidents or predation. We don’t think you finding dead moths is unusual.

      Reply
  13. Hi,
    I thought it’s just me. But I’m glad I am not the only one crazily looking for answers why we’re seeing these big moths in SG after so many years of living here. I found one in my bathroom last week of May, then one more, day before in the night in my living room. Yesterday as I stepped out of my house, I found one near the building lift in Melville Park, Simei. When I reached office, I found 7-10 of them on the entrance doors of Samsung Hub, Church Street. But glad to know the possible reasons. They’re indeed a beautiful specie :-).
    Thanks, Diana.

    Reply
  14. Hi. I had one lyssa zampa flew into my office space. How can i chase it out? It is disturbing to have it around as i am a moth freak out. And generally what is its lifespan?Please help! Thanks!

    Reply
  15. While walking through a couple of streets, my sons n i spotted 6! Perhaps weather is too hot for them thats why they are out of their udual habitat.
    See them like rver other day tis jun

    Reply
  16. We have seen many lyssa zampa moths around our condo, my son’s school, golf course etc in Kuala Lumpur. We are trying to catch it and study it. My son has caught it on his arm and so far not infected with itchiness. We quickly asked him to wash his hands with soap. Anyone with more information about it please share.

    Reply

Leave a Comment