Hello again bug fans. It’s time again for another edition of Friday Flyers. We’re in the middle of our busiest season of the year, and as Christmas approaches it’s harder to find the time to do this weekly feature. The next couple of weeks will probably feature some simpler topics. But this week we’d like to introduce you to some absolutely stunning moths--- the Arctiids. The Arctiids are a rather large family distributed on all the continents. There are a few members of this family that approach 3-inch wingspans, but primarily they are in the 1 to 2 inch range. As a result, you don’t often see them framed for display, and most collectors don’t get too serious about them. Also their small size makes them extremely difficult to work with. The handling breakage when working with dried specimens is a problem. But for those of us who have the patience and skill, the efforts are very rewarding. We’re including only composite photos this week so that we can show some of the immense variety of these little jewels.
You may be familiar with our local Arctiid moths from their caterpillars, some of which are called “Woolly Bears”. In South America where we have photographed extensively, the Arctiids are split into many sub-categories, the most interesting of which (to us) are the Tiger Moths and the Wasp and Fly Mimics. Today we’re going to show you some of the Tiger Moth group, and we’ll save the Mimics for another edition. The Tiger Moths are invariably brightly colored with bold patterns. As we have mentioned in previous editions, bright colors and bold patterns often mean “poisonous to predators”. It is very well known that Arctiid caterpillars ingest toxins from their leafy diets, store and intensify these toxins, and endow their adults with toxicity. Arctiids are also known for their extremely effective pheromone scent chemicals which the females use to attract the males. Some of these chemicals have been synthesized in the laboratory, but considering the thousands of Arctiid species, each with its own variation, relatively few pheromones have been identified. Each species depends on its own unique scent, otherwise the wrong males will be attracted and breeding could not occur. After the males find the females and mate, the females lay clusters of eggs on their food plants. Some Arctiids can lay hundreds of eggs. Given the small size of the adults, the eggs are almost too small to see, and the newly hatched caterpillars are ½ millimeter or shorter in length!!! As in most moths (especially in the tropical rainforests), the caterpillars and food plants have not yet been identified. This would be a lifetime career for a researcher.
Because of the relatively small size of most Arctiids, we don’t have them individually framed in our Wonders Of Nature department. But we do have some of the larger members of the family included in our collage frames. For those of you who might like to consider collecting Arctiids, we can make custom assortments for you with some of the more colorful species, in multiple specimen frames. We’re keeping this week’s description somewhat brief, but we’re making up for it with some extra photos. Enjoy!
We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Friday Flyers. We love sharing our interest in butterflies and insects with you. Please enjoy the photos we have posted with this week’s edition, and be sure to see all the previous pictures in our Friday Flyers album.
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