Moth Profile #3

With National Moth Week about a week-and-a-half away, it is time for another moth species profile.  Today’s species in the spotlight is the Clio Tiger Moth (Ectypia clio).  Like the Faithful Beauty (see previous post), this moth is in the subfamily Arctiinae of the Erebidae.

This is a striking white moth with black stripes on the forewings and thorax.  The stripes on the thorax are bordered with an orange stripe.  If one is able to see it, the abdomen is mostly orange with black spots.

The caterpillars feed on climbing milkweed vines (Funastrum).  I suspect that the black, white, and orange coloration of the adult is aposematic, warning potential predators of its unpalability.  Milkweeds are well-known for the secondary compounds (cardiac glycosides) that they contain to repel herbivores.  These compounds are toxic to vertebrates.  Any insect that can somehow manage to handle these chemicals gains a large measure of protection from predation by birds and other vertebrates.  In this regard, they are similar to Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) and Queens (D. gilippus).

The Clio Tiger Moth was described to science in 1864 by Alpheus Spring Packard, Jr.  Packard was an entomologist and author who was originally trained as a physician, but spent most of his time studying insects, spiders, mollusks, and geology.  He studied under Louis Agassiz at Harvard- after obtaining his medical degree.  Plus, he was from Maine, where my family is from, so he must have been a good guy.

EctypiaclioVail31viii13 Ectypia clio at blacklight on Aug. 31, 2013, Vail, AZ


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