drepanidae

Drepanid Moth (Macrocilix maia, Drepaninae, Drepanidae)

A moth with extraordinary decoration. It’s livery could be interpreted in a couple of ways: defensive eyespots; or bird guano camouflage.

In the case of bird dropping mimicry (an adaption adopted by many Drepanid moths), the concept has been elaborated on further as a pair of flies standing around a bird dropping. These moths are reported to also smell of ammonia/urea.

Either way, natural selection by evolution is AWESOME.

by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu'er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese moths on my Flickr site HERE…..

Amazing mimicry of Macrocilix maia

Like a watercolor painting, the Asian moth Macrocilix maia (Drepanidae) paints a whole scene on its upperwings that mimics two flies eating… feces. It is said that the moth reinforces the imagery with a pungent odour.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Shi Wei (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) | Locality: Fushan, Wulai, Taipei County, Taiwan (2010)

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MOTH family Drepanidae (Hooktip Moths)

(click individual images for IDs in captions)

The Drepanid family of moths are distinguished from all others due to their sense of hearing (which is why the family includes some groups that are dissimilar in appearance to the classic “hook-tipped” moth but related by this feature). The abdominal ears of drepanids are structurally unique compared to those of other Lepidoptera and other insects, by having an internal tympanal membrane, and auditory sensilla embedded within the membrane.

by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu'er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese moths on my Flickr site HERE…..

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Bird Dropping Mimicry in Drepanid Moths

There is not much more that is unappealing to a bird gastronomically as it’s own faeces or that of others. Similarly, in wooded areas populated by birds the incidence of guano staining on leaves and other vegetation is quite high. Consequently, evolution has yet again taken extreme steps to provide shelter for the vulnerable in the form of bird dropping mimicry.

Many species of arthropods use faecal mimicry as a camouflage, including moths of the Drepanidae family. Typically camouflage incorporates the glossy fecal component, the white mottled urate component and the clear or coloured urine component of guano in the wing pattern and shape, body and surface-hugging stance of the moths. And it works; not only on potential predators. The number of times I have overlooked such examples with a cursory glance, but detected the ruse on deeper investigation is beyond counting. What is more, individuals seem to be able to place themselves amongst concentrations of real guano stains beneath a bird roost to deepen the deception.

In the top image, Macrocilix maia, simple bird dropping mimicry has been taken a step further with (arguably) a pair of flies or similar insects standing either side of the coloured component as if themselves feeding on the faecal waste.

Even Drepanid caterpillars exhibit bird dropping mimicry…..


by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu'er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese moths on my Flickr site HERE…..