The Saturniidae ('Emperor Moths' or 'Giant Silk Moths') are a family of medium to very large moths with wingspans of up to 12 cm or more and robust, usually hairy, bodies and broad wings. The largest moths of all are found in this family, which is a popular one with collectors due to their large size, often bright coloration and their spectacular and easily-reared larvae. There are about 1300 described species worldwide, with the largest number being found in the New World Tropics (Scoble 1992). The family is divided into seven subfamilies, (of which a representative of only one - the Saturniinae - is allegedly found in Jamaica). The large colour identification guide ('Saturniidae Mundi') by d'Abrera (1995) makes identification of world species in the subfamilies Arsenurinae and Ceratocampinae relatively straightforward; further volumes planned by d'Abrera will cover the remaining subfamilies. At present the large, expensive, outdated and out-of-print Seitz (1925) is the only guide to identification of most world Saturniidae, although the works by Lemaire (1978, 1980 and 1988) cover large parts of this family.
The Subfamily SATURNIINAE are a largely old world tropical family and are probably an unnatural grouping made up of unrelated species lumped together on the basis of external similarity of appearance rather than degree of descent from a common ancestor. This subfamily contains most of the really large Saturniids.
I catalogue a single species allegedly taken in Jamaica. Please click on the underlined species name to go to a colour illustration of the adult and brief information on the species.
The genus Samia