Subject: Really beautiful!
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
April 7, 2013 11:16 am
I’ve taken these on the last few days on São Paulo, Brazil.
Could someone help identifying them?
Thanks and best regards
Dear David Lynch,
This is a Wasp Moth in the Tiger Moth tribe Arctiini, and we believe it is either in one of the subtribes Ctenuchina or Euchromiina. Wasp Moths have evolved to mimic stinging wasps though the moths themselves have no stinging defense mechanisms. We found a matching image on Project Noah, and it is only identified as a Wasp Moth Ctenuchinae, which is obsolete taxonomy. We are sending your photos to Tiger Moth expert Julian Donahue to see if he can provide a species identification.
Julian Donahue Responds
This is one of my favorite Neotropical ctenuchids: the moth with the fuzzy red racing stripe. It’s in the genus Dinia, either mena (more likely) or eagrus; John Rawlins has been revising the genus but I don’t think it’s been published yet. This moth is demonstrating a behavior common to this group of moths (useful for observing or collecting them): it is sucking the juice from a bruised or wilted plant that contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, thought to confer protection to the adult moth by making it distasteful to predators. The moths are brightly colored to advertise their distastefulness (aposematism), and many species are diurnal. The most common plants containing these compounds are heliotrope (Heliotropium) and allies in the Boraginaceae, and composites (Asteraceae) related to Eupatorium.