Costa Rican Moth
January 27, 2010
We here at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in Costa Rica are big fans of yours, and we have found a moth that we cannot identify. The photo should be pretty descriptive, but basically it is wearing some stylish headgear that resembles a broken twig. Your help is much appreciated!
Monteverde Butterfly Gardens Staff
Monteverde, Costa Rica
Dear MBG Staff,
This is an Owlet Moth in the family Noctuidae, a very large family. There are several North American genera in the tribe Plusiini pictured on BugGuide that have a similar profile. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to be more specific in terms of a species or genus identification.
Karl does some research
Hi Daniel and MBG Staff:
This is indeed an Owlet Moth in the family Noctuidae, and I believe the subfamily is Euteliinae (sometimes included in Plusiinae or Nolinae). In the Euteliinae, the beautiful ‘broken-twig’ mimicry is achieved with cryptic coloration, a squat posture and a dramatically upturned abdomen. As far as I can tell there are fewer than 20 species in 3 genera found in Costa Rica, but they are all similar and highly variable. I suspect the genus is either Paectes or Eutelia. The closest match I was able to find on the Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG) site was Paectes obrotunda, but this is really just a guess. MBG Staff, if you contacted Dan Janzen at ACG he could probably give you a precise identification. Regards.
Thanks so much for your timely reply and insight! I have seen Noctuids before with upturned abdomens, but never one this drastic or with this degree of mimicry. I was actually convinced that it wasn`t his abdomen at all, but some weird ornamentation on top of the body, though when you look at it with this new perspective it makes sense. Thanks again, I will keep you updated if I find out anything more.
Keep up the awesome work!
Kyle and MBG staff. Karl