Researchers discover “artistic” moth in Panama
July 29, 2008
Researchers have discovered a new species of Bagworm Moth that wraps its eggs individually in “beautiful cases” fashioned from its golden abdominal hairs, according to a new paper published in the Annals of the Entomology Society of America. The behavior is unique among insects.
“We were mystified when we found a bizarre bag-like structure, about 12 mm long, studded with fragments of other insects, and containing a live insect larva,” said Diomedes Quintero, a professor of biology at the University of Panama who collected the larvae.
The egg cases “may help protect carnivorous siblings from one another and may keep other predators away during development,” according to a statement released by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
The larvae bagworm of the newly discovered are apparently carnivorous and unlike other related species, are not mobile. The larvae attaches one end to a surface—often a leaf—and grabs passing insect prey—including spiders, grasshoppers and katydids, flies, beetles, wasps and ants—with its free end.
Bagworm’s pupal case. Image courtesy of STRI
Adult male Bagworm. Image courtesy of STRI
Donald Ray Davis, Diomedes Quintero A., Roberto A. Cambra T., and Annette Aiello. Biology of a new Panamanian Bagworm Moth (Lepidoptera:Psychidae) with predatory larvae, and eggs individually wrapped in setal cases.. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 2008; 101(4):689-702