Children and staff members at the Mount Cotton State School, an elementary school near a rainforest in Queensland, Australia, have spotted wallabies, koalas and snakes over the years.
But recently, builders who were adding new classrooms to the school made a discovery that stood out even among the famously diverse fauna of Australia, a continent where spiny mammals lay eggs, flightless birds kick with daggerlike claws and platypuses glow in the dark. The builders found a giant wood moth, which can have a wingspan of up to nine inches.
The moth — fuzzy-looking and mottled gray, with a passing resemblance to a well-loved stuffed animal — was found on the side of the new building.
“It was an amazing find,” said Meagan Steward, the school principal, in an interview with ABC Radio Brisbane that was broadcast on Sunday. “This moth was something that we had not seen before.”
white witch moth, which is found in Mexico and South America, does, with a wingspan of up to 12 inches.
The giant wood moth’s large thorax — about the width of a finger — is what helps make it the heaviest moth, Dr. Shockley said. A female can carry up to 20,000 eggs in her abdomen.
Dr. Shockley said he was fascinated by the animal because it spends a majority of its life as an “immature” rather than as an adult, in contrast to humans and other animals; he said he was also impressed by the status of larval wood moths as a source of food for some Indigenous Australians.
“You can eat them raw or you can cook them,” Dr. Shockley said. “The flavor has basically been said to be something like almonds.”