Our treasure of the month: A well camouflaged moth with “deterrent function”



Species shown: Automeris liberia Cramer, male, this species is widespread in South America

“All moths are gray at night” – this somewhat modified saying is impressively refuted by the depicted moth from South America. Of course, there are many gray, brown or greenish moths or moths. These are well camouflaged on a natural substrate (bark, soil, dead leaves, moss) and thus with a little luck escape their enemies, especially birds. The moth pictured is also well camouflaged as long as it hides its conspicuous hind wings under its forewings. However, if it is nevertheless discovered or disturbed, it opens its forewings in a flash and presents the yellow hindwings with the striking eye spots. Many an enemy will let go of the prey in surprise, giving it a chance to escape. This increases the survival rate and thus the reproductive success of the species. Mimesis and mimicry, camouflage combined with warning: perhaps this is why the number of species of the neotropical eye moth genus Automeris Hübner (Fam. Saturniidae) is quite high, with about 135 species, all of which have these eyespots.
In the butterfly collections[SH1] of the LIB there are several thousand specimens from many genera of this very impressive moth family.


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