A fruit loving moth

Eudocima cocalus (Cramer) female
Eudocima cocalus (Cramer) female

This wonderful looking moth is in fact a bit of a pest, on account of the fact that it likes to make holes in fruits and suck out the juices! Hence it has acquired the name Cocalus Fruit Piercing Moth, which sounds very grand for such a little insect. This is the female shown here (above); the male does not have such nice white blotches. However, they can both pierce ripening fruits with their proboscises – penetrating the skin and pulp of fruit – to get at the juices. Unfortunately, this can cause crop losses of more than 50% in many crops – by allowing microorganisms to enter – such as Lychee and Carambola (1).

Seen in profile like this, the moth looks like it would blend in well on a lichen covered branch, but the hindwings (tucked away) have prominent yellow patches (2), which might be used to startle would-be predators? There is also a prominent ‘snout’ at the front end. I wonder what that is for? The antennae are long and thin and are tucked away in this photo; as is the fruit stabbing proboscis.

Also amazing to think that this noctuid moth was first described by Pieter Cramer in 1777! (3) I photographed it near Khao Yai, Thailand.

  1. Leong, S. C. T., & Kueh, R. J. H. (2011). Seasonal abundance and suppression of fruit-piercing moth Eudocima phalonia (L.) in a citrus orchard in Sarawak. The Scientific World Journal, 11, 2330-2338.
  2. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/37867071
  3. http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/95175#page/142/mode/1up

A medley of moths II: Tinolius species

Tinolius eburneigutta
Tinolius eburneigutta

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.

Tinolius sp. DCD
Tinolius sp. with bipectinate antennae

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.

Tinolius sp. larva
Tinolius sp. larva

All of these photographs were taken in northern Thailand, at Doi Chiang Dao.

  1. Zahiri, Reza, et al. “Molecular phylogenetics of Erebidae (Lepidoptera, Noctuoidea).” Systematic Entomology 37.1 (2012): 102-124.

A medley of moths I: Asota species

Asota plana plana (Doi Ang Khang)
Asota plana plana

Asota plana Walker, 1854. A moth in the family Erebidae in the superfamily Noctuoidea which is found between 1,000 to 1,900m. I took this photograph at Doi Ang Khang, in northern Thailand, well below the peak at 1,928 metres. The subspecies Asota plana plana is found in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The larvae are very striking, coloured black with yellow rings around each segment and festooned with long white hairs; definitely aposematic! (1). The host plant is said to be Ficus (Moraceae).

The moth flew onto a pane of glass, which resulted in an attractive photograph (below) even though it was taken with a small compact camera. I have rotated the image from the vertical to the horizontal plane for added impact! It is one of my favourite images and shows that you do not need to spend a lot of money on equipment to get interesting images. But you do need to get lucky now and then!

Asota plana plana (Doi Ang Khang) on window pane.jpg
Asota plana plana

The large, and very attractive moth, Asota (=Anagniasubfascia, shown below, is another member of this genus. This specimen appeared on the balcony outside my hotel room one night in Pattaya. Another species with a wide distribution, including India, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan. It seems to have gone through a number of name changes as it was also previously named, Peridrome subfascia Walker, 1854.

Asota subfascia (Walker, 1854). IIjpg
Asota subfascia
  1. http://www.natureloveyou.sg/Minibeast-Butterfly/Caterpillar_Asota%20Plana/Main.html