|Reversed Haploa Moth - Haploa reversa Hodges #8109|
Family Erebidae / Subfamily Arctiinae - Tiger, Footman and Lichen Moths
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Live adult moths and larvae photographed at northern Illinois, USA
This species of moths is ubiquitous at the Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve at Winfield, Illinois, during some years. They are clumsy fliers, their principle tactic being flying a short distance and hiding in the grass or low foliage (there are perhaps thousands of species that employ this tactic). Their camouflage does not appear effective in a foliage-green environment. They are hyper-alert and difficult to approach, perhaps as a result of their high visibility.
Erebidae is a large and diverse family of moths including the groups commonly known as tiger moths, footmen moths, lichen moths and wasp moths. Many species have 'hairy' caterpillars which are popularly known as woolly bears.
This larva is probably Haploa confusa.
The most distinctive feature of the family is a tymbal organ on the metathorax (Scoble 1995). This organ has membranes which are vibrated to produce ultrasonic sounds. They also have thoracic tympanal organs for hearing, a trait which has a fairly broad distribution in the Lepidoptera, but the location and structure is distinctive to the family. Other distinctive traits are particular setae ('hairs') on the larvae, wing venation, and a pair of glands near the ovipositor (Scoble, 1995). The sounds are used in mating (Simmons and Conner 1996) and defense against predators (Fullard et al, 1994).
Moths and their larvae (caterpillars) are major agricultural pests worldwide. The caterpillar of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) causes severe damage to forests in the northeast United States, where it is an invasive species. In tropical and subtropical climates, the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is perhaps the most serious pest of brassicaceous crops.
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