20 December 2012

More moths from south-east Brazil

One of my highlights of 2012 was the time I spent mothing at REGUA - my foreign patch in Brazil's Atlantic Forest. I took loads of photos of a huge diversity of unfamiliar and often bizarre moths, and over the last few months I've been trying to identify as many as I can (no easy task considering there are no identification guides for this part of South America). So following on from the posts about the hawkmoths, silkmoths and lappet moths found on my last trip back in September, here are a selection of the myriad of other moths, some of which I still can't identify, seen at REGUA during both of my trips to Brazil this year.

The diversity of moths in the Atlantic Forest is incredible and the actual number of species here could be many thousands. Many of these species appear to be widely distributed across South America, but with high levels of endemism generally within other orders in the Atlantic Forest, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a good number of the moths we've seen here are found nowhere else.

Family: Cossidae (Carpenter Moths)

Morpheis xylotribus, 21 September 2012. Morpheis is a genus of 10
New World species belonging to the Zeuzerinae subfamily. There's few
references available for this genus, but I think the blackish line parallel to
the costa, near the apex on the forewing, together with the lack of white along
the outer forewing might be diagnostic, and helpful when separating from
the very similar Morpheis pyracmon.

Family: Megalopygidae (Flannel Moths)

Trosia cf. nigropunctigera, 18 September 2012. Trosia is a highly distinctive genus
(as yet not assigned to a subfamily). There are 17 species currently recognised,
but they are all extremely similar and difficult to identify. Moreover, there is almost
no literature available and virtually nothing of use for identification online either.

Family: Geometridae (Geometer Moths) - named after the way their larvae (inchworms) move along by looping their bodies, as if measuring as they go.

Epimecis conjugaria, 13 June 2012

Saddled Emerald Synchlora ephippiaria, 21 September 2012. Part of the
Geometrinae subfamily (Emeralds), the Synchlora genus comprises 47 species.

Synchlora gerularia, 11 June 2012. Another member of the Geometrinae
subfamily, I can find almost no information about this taxon.

Melanchroia aterea, 15 June 2012

Family: Erebidae - the former family Arctiidae is now a subfamily, Arctiinae, within Erebidae.

Great Leopard Moth Hypercompe scribonia, 11 September 2012. This species,
like most of this genus, has a bright reddish abdomen which it would display
when handled. I love the translucent ends of the forewings of this specimen.

Eucereon rosina, 14 September 2012

Eucereon sp. nr. rosina, 20 September 2012. Similar pattern to E. rosina but
note the bluish background colour and the pinkish-red abdomen.

Hyalurga fenestrata, 13 June 2012

Ornate Moth Utetheisa ornatrix, 16 June 2012.
Common throughout the Americas, this species is
often found resting on flowers or seeds during
the day but actually flies at night. This is the South
American equivalent of the Crimson Speckled
Utetheisa pulchella of the Old World.

Family: Noctuidae - the largest moth family

Letis buteo, 10 September 2012

Ceroctena grata (previously Sosxetra grata), 20 September 2012. From the
Calpinae subfamily. There are several beautifully coloured Ceroctena species
found at REGUA. Check out the scales on the front legs.

Family: Crambidae (Crambid Snout Moths)

Mung Moth Maruca vitrata, 11 June 2012. The larvae of this moth are a well
known pest across tropical regions (not only in South America), boring into
leguminous crops such as mung beans, soybeans and cowpeas, causing
significant loses in some areas. This species has also been recorded in Britain,
probably after hatching from imported crops.

Check out this excellent Brazilian butterfly and moth blog, which is very useful for identification, here.


  1. Some cracking moths there Lee - reminds me of Fraser's Hill in Malaysia, with loads of stunning moths that I didn't have a clue how to identify.

    1. You'd have a field day in Brazil. I haven't a clue what I'm looking at in the UK let alone Brazil! Good fun trying to work it out though.

  2. Hi Lee
    Your Thysania sp. is probably Letis buteo. Will check when I'm back at work.