Arctiid Moth from Tuamotus
Location: Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
August 23, 2010 12:18 am
In July we were on the island of Fakarava in the Tuamotus, French Polynesia. I photographed this day flying moth which I believe is Utetheisa pulchelloides marshallorum (Rothschild, 1910) – The Heliotrope Moth. This was the only moth or butterfly I saw there.
We agree that you have the genus correct, but there are other similar looking specimens that are closely related so the species may be different. The picture you submitted is a close match to the image on Csiro and the Oz Insects website has this information: “The Heliotrope Moth is brightly coloured have white wings with red, brown and black spots and markings. It is active by day fluttering low over the ground like a small butterfly. The caterpillars are black with orange spots and broken cream lines along the body. Larvae contain poisonous alkaloids that deter predators from eating them.” Is it odd that you didn’t see any butterflies in Polynesia? We were curious about that and found this troubling article about a bacteria that is killing male Blue Moon Butterflies.