Subject: Is it a moth or a wasp?
Location: Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador (Amazon)
July 12, 2013 1:13 pm
Hi, I was in the jungle in Ecuador. We were in the city of Puyo and this bug flew in at night. It looks like a moth, but I asked and someone said it was a wasp. I can’t find any info about it online. Thanks.
This is neither a wasp nor a moth. It is a Lanternfly or Peanut Headed Bug, Fulgora laternaria, and there are some local superstitions regarding this unusual relative of Cicadas and Leafhoppers. Years ago we uncovered the superstion of the Machaca, a local name for the Lanternfly in some areas of South America. The superstition is that if bitten by a Machaca, a person must have sex within 24 hours, or die. Though we rarely quote Wikipedia, we cannot resist perpetuating this interesting rumor: “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 popular belief in Bolivia (Santa Cruz de la Sierra) is that it is a dangerous insect dependant on its wing colours but the insect is actually harmless to people.” Perhaps that is the reason you were informed that this was a wasp. To the best of our knowledge, Lanternflies do not bite. When they were initially discovered by westerners, it was believed that they were bioluminescent, hence the name Lanternfly, but in actuality, they do not glow in the dark.
Thank you. Now I understand why I couldn’t find any info on it.