The best exotic moths

Oak Emerald is its identify; this elusive moth, which is confined to the excessive altitute Oak forests of the Northeast, appears irresistible in parrot inexperienced. Then there may be Beautiful Cyana; its white physique amplified by a splash of crimson, yellow and brown-coloured patterns, however nothing like The Lesser Golden Emperor which is only a burst of yellow and purple colors throughout.

These photographs posted by naturalist Yuvan Aves on Instagram, as a part of National Moth week that’s noticed within the final week of July, celebrates the great thing about moths. “These are some of the extraordinary moths that are endemic to the Northeast. I photographed these in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam and West Bengal,” remembers Yuvan, an lively member of Madras Naturalists Society.

Beautiful Cyana
| Photo Credit:
M Yuvan

Moth watching, or mothing, is all about ready, he provides. As moths are drawn to ultraviolet gentle, one has to place a white sheet lit by mercury vapour lamp and look forward to the moths to choose the display screen earlier than photographing them.“You have to stay up all night. In Assam, I set up an alarm for every one hour till 3 am. You have to worry about predators too — lizards, praying mantis, wasps, and cats that always eat the pretty looking moths. If you are in a forest, even owls come and pull the sheets,” says Yuvan.

These endemic moths are additionally liable to being worn out as a consequence of human interventions that create opposed habitat. “Moths in the northeast have specific climatic and host plant necessities. If one specific tree is felled, or if there are other changes to its habitat, then the moths are wiped off,” he provides.

Yuvan Aves

Diverse caterpillars

  • A bagworm moth caterpillar collects dry leaves and twigs and glues them round itself to make a pleasant little dwelling. Now as there may be much less vegetation, it has improvised the house with hair, threads and newspapers!
  • If you disturb a Teak Defoliator whereas feeding on teak leaves, it retaliates and spits out a black gooey secretion
  • Castor semi-looper feeds on castor crops, shops resin within the physique and turns into toxic to predators. It has two little tusks subsequent to its mouth which it makes use of as a defence mechanism to poke on predators.

Reminiscing of nights spent mothing within the northeast, he says, “I was thrilled to see the Oak Emerald visit our moth-sheet at Lama camp in the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. It is among the remotest places in the Northeastern hills of India. The Cyana is a small moth that feeds on mosses and has beautiful spots. Yuvan, who photographed the Iridescent Emerald (named for its opalescence) at Neora Valley in West Bengal, says the moth’s body reflects different colours as we move away from it. “Sometimes we are amazed by the beauty… like the Lesser Golden Emperor.”

Lesser Golden Emperor

Lesser Golden Emperor
| Photo Credit:
M Yuvan

‘Insect Armageddon’

He mentions the Oleander hawk-moth that he had noticed in Thirukazhukundram, close to Chennai. “People name it pillayar poochi as a result of the moth resembles Lord Ganesha’s face. The caterpillar of this moth feeds on arali flowers, shops poison within the physique and displays an attention-grabbing behaviour. It is lengthy, inexperienced and likewise has a hidden pair of eyes. When disturbed, it rolls these massive blue eyes like its telling you ‘Hey! I am poisonous. Stay away’,” he says. Another moth that may be noticed in city areas is the Owlet moth. “It has owl-like eyes on its back, and sits on rock crevices and tree barks. Its eyes are prominent and scares away predators,” he provides. There can be the Fruit-piercing moth, which when disturbed reveals a yellow color on its hindwings with two black spots resembling watchful eyes.

Oleander Hawkmoth

Oleander Hawkmoth  
| Photo Credit:
M Yuvan

Yuvan, who lately completed recording 200 species of moths as part of 12 months lengthy research at Adyar Poonga , says that a lot of moth ecology stays unknown. “Moths are less studied. We have 15,000 species of moths in India. They are largely nocturnal and difficult to study though insects, moths, flies and bees are the only available pollinators. What is happening now is an Armageddon where we are losing insects at an alarming rate because of air and water pollution, and pesticide use. It threatens our food security. When there is no pollination, we may not get our fruits and vegetables,” he provides.

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