Tinolius is a genus of five striking moths in the family Erebidae (Noctuoidea), sometimes called Owlet moths. The forewings are buff coloured with different numbers of white spots; the abdomen is pale red or yellow with lateral black bars on each segment.
The male antennae are strongly bipectinate – meaning that they have two margins – toothed like a comb – a bit like a feather (below). This species has one less white spot than the one above, but I have not seen able to name it.
The larvae of these moths are described as being ‘ophiusine’ semi-loopers (1). They have very long and fine setae, some of which are elongated and flattened at their ends into black blades. They really are extraordinary looking caterpillars. Quite what the function of the paddle-like structures is, other than defence, I don’t know. There is very little in the on-line literature on these remarkable insects.
All of these photographs were taken in northern Thailand, at Doi Chiang Dao.
- Zahiri, Reza, et al. “Molecular phylogenetics of Erebidae (Lepidoptera, Noctuoidea).” Systematic Entomology 37.1 (2012): 102-124.
I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.