Giant moth with 10inch wing-span sparks invasion fears after rare discovery

A super rare species of moth with a massive wingspan of about 10-inches, has been discovered in the US.

The Atlas moth, which is considered to be one of the largest moths in the world, was discovered in the US for the first time last month in the state of Washington.

According to officials at the Washington State Department of Agriculture the Atlas moth, which is not native to the area, is actually illegal to keep in the US and officials aren’t sure how the massive insect landed in the US.

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To date, there has only been one reported sighting of the monster moth so officials are unable to say whether there’s a population of Atlas moths in Washington state due to lack of evidence, reports the Metro.

The massive insect was spotted on July 7 by a University of Washington professor, who reported their finding to the state agriculture department. The insect was identified as an Atlas moth before it was sent to the federal department of agriculture for confirmation.

"We are not sure it could survive here," said Sven Spichiger, the department’s managing entomologist.

"USDA is gathering available scientific and technical information about this moth and will provide response recommendations, but in the meantime, we hope residents will help us learn if this was a one-off escapee or whether there might indeed be a population in the area."

Despite their massive size, the moths are not a danger to humans and can be safely handled. However, keeping them as pets, or selling live atlas moths whether they are adults, eggs, larvae or pupae without a USDA permit is considered illegal.

Not much is known about the species but the Atlas moth is native to Southeast Asia and experts say they typically inhabit a more tropical climate than Washington.

It's not the first time this year a rare moth sighting has stunned experts.

Earlier this year a monster moth that hadn't been seen for over a century was found inside of a person's luggage in the US in front of shocked airport staff. The creepy insect was later identified to be a Salma brachyscopalis Hampson which was last seen in 1912.

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