Please Identify This
Location: Malaybalay City Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines
June 20, 2011 12:30 am
Hello, I have seen this small tiny flying creature in our Backyard and in some of my friends backyards. I want to know if this is a moth or a butterfly and what kind of a specie it is. Took this picture for my 365project (http://www.365project.org/altadc). Thank you so much.
We originally believed these might be Wasp Moths or Clearwings in the family Sesiidae. The mating pair demonstrates dramatic sexual dimorphism. We tried searching the family and Philippines, and immediately found a match on TrekNature that agrees with our family identification, and a comment provides this species name: Amata heubneri, and indicates it is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae. Then things get really confusing. The Butterfly House website has images of a mating pair of Amata heubneri that do not exhibit the sexual dimorphism. We are relatively confident that these are diurnal Tiger Moths in the subfamily Arctiinae, but we may need additional time on the species ID.
Julian Donahue, noted Arctiid Expert, provides some information
Beautiful and fascinating photo. Using the “old” classification, this is in the tiger-moth family Arctiidae, subfamily Ctenuchinae, and a member of the Old World group of genera. It is NOT Amata huebneri, but rather the male appears to be Ceryx flaviplagia, described from Mindanao by Hampson in 1898, or something very close to it. The female, however, may represent sexual dimorphism (common in this group) or an extreme melanic individual (also fairly common). It is very likely that the female was described as a distinct, separate, species, because it is so different from the male (also a very common occurrence, a confusion usually not resolved until mating observations such as this one provide evidence that two “species” are actually the same species, or “conspecific.” In fact, the female looks very similar to illustrations I have seen of a moth, described from the female only, as Ceryx chea Druce; the fact that it was also described from Mindanao makes the possibility of conspecificity even more likely.
Be aware, however, that I am working from very old references, and I am not conversant with the latest knowledge about Old World ctenuchines, so further verification and research are necessary to confirm the identification and, more importantly, whether the possibility of conspecificity of these two “species” has been previously reported. This is really exciting stuff that should be pursued further.