Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pins and Needles 1: Saturniid Moths

Hey guys

If you have been reading my blog you will know that lately, I've had my arms tied paying nursemaid to my poor Cumulus who is now showing some signs of recovery. On the other hand I have also managed to find the time to get some taxidermy done. Recently I had managed to procure for myself a couple of rather spectacular insects and, leaving for Angkor Wat soon, it was extremely urgent that I got to preserving them lest the nasty parasites and fungal growths beat me to their dead bodies by the time I get back!

The three new specimens consisting of a White Cicada, Indian Moon Moth and some sort of Emporer Moth
The usual methods applied for the preservation of all three insects. The cicada was fairly simple and a dose of insecticide/fungicide was applied to it by means of a spraying canister to ensure a smooth and even coating. The moths, however took a little more trick and skill. Remembering the discoloration this particular brand of insecticide/fungicide caused in my Rajah Brooke female specimen  I was quite hesitant to spray it directly upon the two moths. Instead I managed, with a cotton swab and a cotton bud I had to carefully "pain" the chemicals onto the insect's body avoiding, for the better part their delicate wings. I am confident that this is sufficient because in all my years of experience I have never had problem of fungal growths or parasitic infestation on the wings of my specimens, only their bodies.

Ayuthia Spectabilis, White Cicada was magnificent in itself

But, being a lepidopterist, the prize of my collection was, naturally the two large saturniid moths; an Indian Moon Moth and another moth of the "Emperor" Moths.

This female indian moon moth (Actias Luna), with its beautiful fairy-like chalk green wings was truly a sight to behold and measured almost 13cm from the top of its fore wings to the trailing tails on its hindwings

And not to forget this majestic male Antheraea Celebensis (common name unidentified) with its fiery wings that I believe to be one of the Emperor Moths
Some Brief Info on SaturniidaeConsidered by most to be some of the most spectacular of all moths species, the Saturniid Moths boasts some of the largest species of moths in the world including the world's largest lepidoptera, the Atlas Moth. Characterized by their furry bodies, lobed wings and lack of mouthparts Saturniid Moths are also known for their brightly coloured wings which often boast translucent "windows" or eyespots. Similar to most moth species, male moths can be distinguished from female moths by their large and feathery antennae which can be used to detect the pheromones released by female moths for many miles away! The moths, which do not have mothparts live only to mate and then die. These beautiful moths are usually found in wooded tropical or subtropical regions with the greatest diversity in the New World Tropics and Mexico.

To give you a rough idea on the size of these moths, here's a picture of the Emperor Moth held up against my face!
Another interesting fact of note, ALL Saturniid moths produce silk and these "wild-silk" is used in certain countries for commercial purposes though the silk in mention are often distinguished from the silk produced by domesticated silk moths  (Bombyx Morii) by its comparative toughness and roughness!

Why is it all the cool animals have gone extinct...and the even cooler ones are now endangered...

1 comment:

Nature Rambles said...

Very beautiful...the cicada also. You're right about the Indian Moon Moth...what spectacular wings it's got! But I've never seen it before. i only have the smaller ones visiting my yard/front-door steps!