Thursday, October 10, 2013

Agapema Are Among Us

Every Autumn.

October 9th, this year.

**UPDATE EDIT** PM 11 October 2013:  Well, do read the whole post before reading this updated blurb.  Done?  All right. Thank you.  I may just keep everything the same down there...
Anyways, the complex of genus Agopema is a mess.  You just read it down there.
I am privileged to be acquainted with a few learned and experienced minds when it comes down to the subject of Lepidoptera in the state of Texas and the Southwest.  They are above and beyond me, and I am better for them.
I often seek their input.  Time and again, after some genuine effort on our part, I/we seek their help on identification and education.  They are more than one. They are more than two.  An odd number helps my sample size.  Well, it can help a stalemate at least.
Our particular area is within a somewhat disjointed area-range of what is being determined Agapema dyari.  OR  Agapema anona dyari; depending perhaps if you read the Old Testament or read the New Testament as well.
One short discussion/treatment is within the comment section of this post.
See what I mean? As always, thanks for reading. ***

"Mexican Agapema" (Agapema anona)
This beautiful bug belongs to family Saturniidae, the New World "Silkmoths."

Male moths generally have antennae that are fanned-out in shape.  Some species, like this, are fairly pronounced and evident.  This gives this male the ability to detect pheromones given by a female from sizable distances; for some, up to miles away.

A. anona larval hosts in southeastern Arizona are Ziziphus ziziphus and Ceanothus spathulata. (Powell & Opler, 2009)
While I have recently learned of a house in town that has a Zizphus sp., I suspect it Zizphus jujuba and the fruits are quite nice to eat, the plant this moth uses as a larval host in the Marathon Basin is Condalia ericoides.

"Javelina Bush."

Check out a Mexican Agapema cocoon by clicking on this LINK.
This pupa, in this Javelina Bush, is somewhat unique and peculiar.  If you read further in that 3-yr-old post you would come to understand.

The cocoon is pretty much a cocoon within a cocoon.  Surrounding and separate from the interior cocoon is a mesh, net-like structure.  It is quite unique and one must see it in-person to fully smile about it.

In south Brewster County and Presidio County there is also a shrub named Condalia warnockii.  The Mexican Agapema caterpillars are quite cool with that plant as well.

Last night, we did not have just this individual.

Another male.  Lost an antenna.  You remember that old bumper sticker, "$--- happens."

He's lost an antenna and also shows a little wear on his left fore-wing.  Our earlier bug is pretty much pristine.

We always tell the kids in our children's programs NOT to grab the moths by the wings.  That they can easily lose scales.  Additionally, by grabbing at their wings we may inadvertently handicap their flight.

So, instead, we let them crawl up our fingers.  Heidi is particularly good at this.

If you want to surf around the blog for pics during certain kids' program outings, click the label "Moths" at the bottom of this post.
Or, you can find the labels in the right-hand sidebar.  Click on "moths."  They are in there somewhere.

A nice look at the patterning and eye-spots on the underside of the Mexican Agapema's hind-wings.

Since I brought up picking up moths, while briefly alluding to kids' programs, I will go a bit further.  At least outside the parameters of getting schoolchildren interested in Lepidoptera.

We aren't avid collectors.  Let me say, we do collect.  We will collect generally when asked.  Asked by research institutions, depending on the project's aim, for example.

Collecting vs. non-collecting has become a touchy subject in the world of butterflies and moths.  There is an enthusiastic, and growing, interest in the order Lepidoptera.

In truth, we would not know what we do now, in this particular matter of subject, without the collecting of specimen of butterflies and moths by field biologists and researchers down the years, decades, and centuries.

These days, there are also a whole heck of a lot of quality digital cameras.

As I said, we do collect under specific reasons. Generally when recruited by researchers.

However, this was not one of those times.

Flash popped in the above pic.  The agapema in her right hand was in flight, well working on it anyways. The Chalcopasta howardi was seriously in flight.  C. howardi is a spectacular little gold and brown moth we are privileged to have out here.  It has been a good year for them.

I have got to get off this blog tonight.  It's getting late.  Ha!.  "It's getting late," says the moth-er.

But before I put a metaphorical bow on this picture-heavy post, I should only lightly address something. Barely dip my toe in the pool, at my current energy level.

genus Agapema is a mess.  Subspecies may be full and separate species, and species maybe be subspecies. Which was the nominate of what?

It wouldn't have been out of the question to utilize an opportunity with two Agapema anona in hand to whisk them away for mtDNA work-ups and analysis.

It's a discussion for another time, and perhaps another forum.

At our geographic location, and our general elevation and element, it is fairly agreed upon (currently) repeatedly that Heidi and I should be and are in habitat and range of Agapema anona.
Not A. a. dyari, nor A. homogena, nor A. galbina, nor A. solita...

Good night.
Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas

    tony g