Posted by: cochinblogger | April 30, 2018

The Handmaiden Moth

The handmaiden moth (family Arctiinae) is primarily diurnal, which is unusual — most moths are nocturnal. They resemble wasps on account of the colored bands across their bodies, which deters some predators. This is an example of what is called Batesian mimicry. Their bright colors signal that they are unpalatable. They look two-winged, but they actually have hind wings that are much smaller than their forewings. They are found in India, China, and South Africa.

I found these moths on my garage wall, and lost no time in fetching my camera from the house. Needless to say, they were still there when I returned. I have seen these moths before around my yard, and they have always seemed rooted to the spot. Yes, these are navel gazers, alright.

Which is the male? Well, I'm not sure, but using the rule of thumb that in the insect world females are generally larger than males (contrary to what we see in mammals), I'd say the moth on the left is the female.

Lastly, to identify the moth, I had to use Google Image Search. You can upload your photo, and Google will show you similar images. I clicked on a similar image, which led me to a website that had the name of the moth.

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  1. I wonder if the relative sizes of male and female moths has something to do with their only eating during the larval stage, and once the imago form is reached they simply drink?
    Having said that, I’ve attended a few functions where drink is plentiful, but food scarce. Though just like moths, they were mainly nocturnal!

    • Ha, ha, ha on scarce food but plentiful drink! I must confess it’s a diet I myself follow perhaps oftener than I should. But you’ve hit the nail on the head as far as the larval stage is concerned. I had stumbled upon the following interesting paper (see URL at the end of this comment) while reading up on the handmaiden moth and wondered whether to include it in the post. I decided against it as it would take us too far afield. Apparently, it’s a puzzling problem, as the physiological growth factors seem to apply equally to male and female moths. So what is the differentiator? It looks as though this paper has answered the question:

  2. Nice photo catch. I have seen these once before (also mating, oddly enough) and wondered what they were. Was disappointed not to have my camera nearby at the time.

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