Subject: moth to identify
Geographic location of the bug: Yucatan Mexico
Time: 11:24 AM EDT
This looks a lot like Horama panthalon but there are enough differences on this moth to suggest another species. Any ideas?
How you want your letter signed: John Guerin
While we acknowledge there is variation between individuals of the same species, we do not notice any significant differences between the image of the Wasp Moth you submitted and the images previously identified as Horama panthalon on our site. Furthermore, the markings on your moth looks the same as the markings on the Texas Wasp Moth in this BugGuide posting. We may be wrong, but we believe the individuals in our archives, your individual and the postings on BugGuide all represent the same species.
Thank you Daniel. It is very kind of you to look into this. I’m sure you are correct in concluding that it is inter-species variation. I do however find it interesting that all 3 photos of the Yucatan specimens have consistent markings behind the eyes and their “panthalons” are quite large while the Bugguide specimens are also all consistent in having slightly different markings and smaller “panthalons”. Of course, regional variations could explain this and perhaps in another thousand generations or so they may indeed become separate species!!!
Thanks again Daniel, its nice to share bug talk with someone who shares the passion.
Update: January 14, 2018
As a follow up to our last e-mail regarding the identification of the Horama wasp moth species, I am now convinced that the moth I photographed is not Horama panthalon but rather Horama oedippus. Here is a link that has led me to that conclusion.
The photographs are not great but the markings and the size of the panthalons are identical.
I thought you would be interested in this information.
Happy New Year and thanks for the update John. With that information, we located an image on pBase of Horama oedippus that does indeed look identical to your moth, but interestingly, another image of Horama oedippus posted to pBase has an entirely orange abdomen, which is either an incorrect identification, or an indication that there is much variation in color and markings within the species, or perhaps even sexual dimorphism. Many similar looking insects, including many butterflies and moths, cannot be reliably identified through observations or even through images, but rather they require actual inspection of the individual, possibly through dissection of the genitalia or by DNA analysis.