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Hairy Cocoons

15mm long | July 6, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

I found quite a few cocoons like the one shown above. They all had openings where the moths or parasitoids had emerged. I didn’t spot any hairy caterpillars that might be responsible for them. Here are a few more examples of the cocoons.

Cocoon with emergence hole

One more example

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Bagworm Cocoon

9cm tall | July 6, 2011 | Victorio Siqueroli Park, Uberlandia, Minas Gerais, Brazil

This is the largest bagworm I’ve ever seen. The twigs look like they’ve been cut up by a beaver. It was empty, so a moth must have already emerged. I know it’s a bagworm because later in the trip I found another one that still had a caterpillar in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me.

Closeup of cocoon construction

With my hand, for scale

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Crypsis Challenge #15 Reveal: Moth

Did you find the hidden moth in the last crypsis challenge? If not, here’s where it was hidden.

Moth, Hidden

Moth, Revealed

In natural light it blended in quite well. With a flash though, it really pops out.

40mm wingspan

I thought the eyespot was interesting and I managed to get a closeup before the moth took off.

Eyespot Closeup

I expected this would be an easy challenge. All commenters correctly mentioned the moth. Good job, everyone!

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Identification Challenge #13 Reveal: Spotted Apatelodes Proleg

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar | October 2, 2011 | Twelvestones, Roswell, GA, USA

Did you guess that the caterpillar above was the critter featured in Identification Challenge #13? Both commenters for this challenge were on the right track, guessing that it was a caterpillar. Here’s the photo again from the challenge.

Proleg closeup

Here’s an even closer look at the proleg so I can point out a few interesting things.

Proleg showing crochets in two different sizes

All those little claws on the proleg are called crochets. This particular species, Apatelodes torrefacta, is one of just a handful of species in my area that belong to the family Bobycidae. The most famous member of that family is the domesticated silkworm moth. One feature of caterpillars in this family is that they have crochets of two different lengths, as shown above. read more

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Crypsis Challenge #11 Reveal: Moth

January 21, 2011 | Finca La Isla, Limon Province, Costa Rica

Did you find the moth in the image above? If not, don’t feel bad. I might not have seen it either, except I originally spotted the moth in a more conspicuous location. After a few shots (below), I deliberately spooked it in hopes that it would land in a location suitable for a crypsis challenge. Here’s an outline if you still need a little help finding it.

Moth revealed

Here’s where I originally spotted it. Not blending in so well, is it?

Camouflage fail

This moth’s shape suggests it might be in the family Tortricidae. It’s small, only about 15mm measured lengthwise in the photo below. read more

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Pretty Little Moth

15mm | January 21, 2011 | Finca La Isla, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This pretty little moth was sitting on a leaf, imitating a bird dropping perhaps. A tortricid?

Dorsal view


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Contorted Moth

45mm wingspan | January 20, 2011 | Armonia Nature Preserve, Limon Province, Costa Rica

I have no idea what kind of moth this is, but I like its attempt to look very unlike a moth.

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Small Moth

January 18, 2011 | Gandoca-Manzanillo NWR, Limon Province, Costa Rica

I’ve been struggling to find time to prepare some longer posts. Here’s a quick post in the meantime. I like the way this little moth is holding its hind legs up flush with its abdomen.

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Colorful Micromoth

11mm | January 17, 2011 | Cahuita National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica

This was the first subject I found after starting along the coastal trail in Cahuita National Park. There were dozens of these little moths on some sort of plant that was prevalent along the coastal trail. When I spotted the first one, I thought perhaps it was a leafhopper. It was only after seeing one up close that I realized it was a moth, and a spectacularly colored one at that.

I’m amazed at how well the forewing and hindwing patterns line up. While clearly two wings toward the tail end, you can barely make out the division between them elsewhere. As for what purpose this pattern serves, I’m stumped. They stand out well on the foliage, so it’s hard to imagine it provides camouflage. Perhaps these are warning colors, but why then the intricate pattern towards the rear? It might be a false eye sort of thing to distract attention away from the important end. And the two red bands do look kind of like legs, if the thing were facing the opposite direction. read more

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Identification Challenge #7 Reveal

All commenters correctly determined that this was a moth:

January 26, 2010 | Caraça Natural Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil

At the time I took the picture, I assumed this was a butterfly. It acted like a butterfly, being active during the day and the way it held its wings (not folded over the back like many moths).

It was only when reviewing the photo later that I noticed it looked a bit odd for a butterfly. Like many commenters, I noted the lack of clubbed antennae. I didn’t try to identify it, but I remembered it when I read an interesting short article in a recent issue of Natural History magazine. The article was all about day flying moths in the subfamily Dioptinae (family Notodontidae). I emailed the author, James S. Miller, asking if he thought this might be one. Here’s his response: read more

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