Is this a Lantern Moth?
Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 3:43 PM
This moth stayed on our terrace in Zihuatanejo, Mexico for a day and a night last fall.
This is a Lanternfly, and it is a planthopper in the family Fulgoridae, not a moth. The Lanternfly is sometimes called a Peanut Headed Bug as well as an Alligator Bug because of its appearance. It is thought to mimic a lizard to escape predators. Your photo illustrates this nicely. According to Wikipedia , this insect, known as the Machaca in the Amazon, has a very interesting superstition surrounding it: “In several countries, such as Ecuador ,Colombia and Venezuela , there exists the myth that if somebody is bitten by the machaca , he or she must have sex within 24 hours to prevent an otherwise incurable death. The insect is actually harmless to people.” Your photo of the underside of the Lanterfly shows the eyespots on the lower wings. This is another form of protective mimicry, because when the Lanternfly reveals those eyespots, it gives the illusion of being a large predator.