Adult wing, scales and sound production
  • pattern consists of metallic green blue and orange stripes on a velvet black background (no orange underneath)
  • pattern usually asymmetric (see hind wing)
  • scale ultrastructure 
    • ribbon-like scales that make up the metallic colour patterns
    • modified into a highly specialised stridulatory organ of the male foreleg (Lees. 1992)

Scale ultrastructure in Urania and the related genus Chrysiridia has long been a textbook example of interference colours and the optical physics of the colours, studied in related species (Prum et al. 2006).


Eggs were

  • globular
  • slightly flattened at poles
  • with numerous vertical ridges
  • yellowish-white

Described but not illustrated by Gosse (1851)

Larva - late instar 
  • grew to 44mm long and 6.4mm wide 
  • had a fulvous-red head 
  • had a full complement of white prolegs
  • its thorax and abdomen were black marked with 
    • a longitudinal band straddling the blue-black midline, consisting of two lateral parallel and somewhat interrupted white lines, which are criss-crossed irregularly by intersegmental white crosslines, giving an effect as if painted with square white Hebrew characters. 
    • interrupted slender lateral white lines running along the line of the spiracles.
    • black ventral surface, with a cream band on either side. 
    • a whorl of apparently deciduous long slender fusiform hairs which were black at base and white distally, more numerous in younger [instars].

Described but not illustrated by Gosse (1881)


The pupa was

  • smooth and shiny 
  • red-brown
  • about 21.6mm long and 0.69cm wide
  • with a whorl of blunt points on each abdominal segment. 
  • with black nervules visible on wing cases
  • attached firmly to cremaster by a strong silk thread
  • as typically for Urania probably in an open weave cocoon (Lees and Smith, 1991).

Described but not illustrated by Gosse (1881)

  • Diagnostic description

    Find out more about the specific features that distinguish Urania sloanus from the other members of the genus Urania.

  • Lookalikes and evolution

    Find out more about how the similarities between Urania sloanus and the genus Chrysiridia from Madagascar and Tanzania.