Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yellow-Collared Scape Moth

I took this picture yesterday (July 3): It's a yellow-collared scape moth, Cisseps fulvicollis.

Yes, I finally looked up this little sucker. I've seen them, known them, since I was a little kid. They always looked like weird fireflies to me, with the orange "shoulders" and the black body. I never thought too much about them.

We have a ton of blue ageratums that come up every year--apparently it's one of the scape moth's favorite food plants.

And it turns out "lightning bug" is the correct "idea," as these moths (yes, completely harmless moths, which unfurl proboscises and sip nectar from flowers) are Batesian mimics for distasteful beetles, such as lightning bugs, which carry toxic and nasty-tasting compounds called lucibufagins.

And they also supposedly mimic wasps, too, which can sting. Thus they're double-Batesian mimics, right?

(I think they look more like lightning bugs, don't you?)

Oh, by the way, by the looks of the antennae, this one would be a male: On our air conditioner, catching the good vibes.

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