Crazy Tiny Insects: Crazy Cool Moths (Again.)

I love moths as much as I love butterflies, I think, only they’re… hmmm. I’d say about 20x as difficult to spot. So many people have these crazy beautiful ones literally bumping into their front doors with a wave of brightly colored wings, saying, ‘Hey! Take a picture of me!’ and despite living, quite literally, in a rainforest, that just doesn’t seem to happen. Once, I think. Yup– once. Maybe for another CTI I’ll dig up the pictures, because that encounter was crazy weird.

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Now this moth is beautiful.

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We found it sitting on our dining room table in Bangalore. There are approximately 10,000 different moth species found in India– imagine! The sizes range from very, very, small to the beautiful Atlas and Luna moths. And then there are some gems in between– in proof, above. Moths differ from butterflies by their antennae. Butterflies’ are clubbed: at the tip, there’s a kind of roundish-ballish-thing which moths lack distinctively. Most species are nocturnal, but ‘most’ isn’t a hard and fast rule; in an earlier CTI I mentioned the Common Wasp Moth, a distinctively diurnal species.

The word ‘moth’ itself is quite derogatory to a frankly beautiful group of insects: tracing a long and complicated lineage through words like ‘motti’ and ‘moððe’ we end up at a possible ‘maða’, meaning maggot, which is also the root of midge, usually used in reference to moths’ cloth-devouring properties. But I’m sure these creatures don’t bear a grudge: having evolved possibly up to 190 million years ago, much older than butterflies, they must have had a) enough time to hear all the insults possible and b) enough time to refute all these insults with the evolution of stunning species like the one above.

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Crazy Tiny Insects: One Crazy Challenge

Lavanya from My Nature Experiences and I have been emailing lately. And the result is not pretty.

If you’re afraid of bugs, leave now, and run away as far as you can. Fast.

Because we’ve decided, weekly, to do a feature on one bug. The only condition? It has to be smaller than 5 cm.

We are going tiny. Too much attention, we decided, has been paid to big, flashy butterflies, large, fluttering birds: majestic eagles are no more. So each Sunday, dear readers, we shall give you a full helping of buggy bonanza. 5 cm small.

And so with that, I present to you our first feature: the Common Wasp Moth (Eressa angustipenna).

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Belonging to a family appropriately named ‘tiger moths’, they are a common sight in Singapore; looking in a field, resting on a grass blade, I’ve seen them everywhere. However, here in India, I’ve seen more of them than all times previously put together, because for some inexplicable reason, they love sitting on the glass. I was fortunate enough to capture this mating pair.

While disguised as a wasp as a clever technique of mimicry so as to deter predators, they’re as moth-y as anything can get. Their polka dotted wings and bright bodies make them easily distinguishable; they seem about to burst into tango any moment!

Have you seen this moth before? Are there any other crazy tiny insects you want featured? Comment and tell us!