28 November 2012

Hawkmoth mimics?

Back in September in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, we trapped a couple of unfamiliar moths at REGUA that look superficially like Ambulycini hawkmoths, but smaller and without the brightly coloured underwings and/or thorax typical of these hawkmoths. Both moths adopted a head-down posture at rest and had large 'flares' on their legs. We had no idea which family they belonged to, but back in the UK I've worked out that they are both moths of the Apatelodidae family (superfamily: Bombycidae) - known as American Silkworm Moths, Lappet Moths, or head-standers, which comprises around 250 species. Despite their common name they are not closely related to the saturniids at all.

Several specimens of Apatelodes princeps (top pic.) were trapped - a widespread species throughout the Neotropics. However, the moth below (bottom pic.) has both me and Alexandre Soares, an entomologist at the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, completely baffled as to its identity!

Apatelodes princeps, Guapi Assu Bird Lodge, 21 September 2012

Apatelodes sp., Guapi Assu Bird Lodge, 22 September 2012

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