Shag Moths

Limacodidae (= Eucleidae, Cochlididae). Spanish: Cornegachos (Peru), gusanos ratón (Central America, larvae). Portuguese: Lagartas aranha (Brazil, larvae). Jívaro: Bayucas (Peru, larvae).

The adults of this family (Dyar 1935) are drab (sometimes green or with silver

Figure 10.11 MOTHS, (a) Flannel moth (Megalopyge lanata, Megalopygidae). (b) Flannel moth, larva, (c) Flannel moth (Megalopyge sp.), larva, (d) Shag moth (Acharia nesea, Limacodidae). (e) Shag moth (Acharia sp.), larva, (f) Monkey slug (Phobetron hipparchia, Limacodidae), larva, (g) Monkey slug, adult.

Figure 10.11 MOTHS, (a) Flannel moth (Megalopyge lanata, Megalopygidae). (b) Flannel moth, larva, (c) Flannel moth (Megalopyge sp.), larva, (d) Shag moth (Acharia nesea, Limacodidae). (e) Shag moth (Acharia sp.), larva, (f) Monkey slug (Phobetron hipparchia, Limacodidae), larva, (g) Monkey slug, adult.

marks), nondescript, and medium-sized (WS usually 15—30 mm) nocturnal moths (fig- 10-lid, g), for the most part, with robust bodies and relatively small wings. Their mouthparts are reduced, and they do not feed.

The early stages, in contrast, are highly distinctive. Larvae are sluglike, without apparent segmentation or well-defined walking legs, the usual lepidopteran foot-hooks (crochets) even lacking. They always have short bristles or hairs. The head is concealed by retraction into the thorax. Among the many, two common body types often seen are the green to yellow "saddle backs" (Acharia = Sibine, many species), with short lobes in a peripheral series and longer lobes at either extreme dorsally (fig. 10.1 le), and the brown, hairy, "spider" type (Phobelron, "monkey slug," P. hippar-chia), with long and short pairs of lateral fingerlike lobes (fig. 10.1 If) (Young 1986). Both bear intensely toxic, urticating spines on their body lobes. They also receive protection from their spiderlike appearance, although they look like a dead leaf to some. These larvae are major sources of caterpillar dermatitis in Latin America. There are also many species with smooth larvae that lack urticating hairs.

Larval food is varied and includes many common plant varieties, such as bananas and palms on which they may be major pests; Stenoma cecropia is a defoliator of oil palm (Genty 1978). The silken cocoon is placed on the host, often in groups, and is a well-made, tough, ovoid structure, usually light brown or white. It may have contrasting dark spots, ostensibly mimicking the emergence holes of parasites, thus discouraging the feeding attempts of birds.

A family related to this, with interesting sluglike larvae, is the Dalceridae (Miller in press, Orfila 1961). These are small to medium-sized moths (WS usually 1-3 cm), Similar to limacodids, with white, yellow, or Orange ground colors, bipectinate antenote tapering gradually to the tip, and no proboscis. The larvae (lagartas gelatinosas, in Brazil) are covered with translucent, sticky, gelatinous, conical tubercles. They are usually rare but can be pests of tree and shrub crops, especially Dalcerina tiju-cana (often incorrectly cited as Zadalcera fumata) on citrus.

References

Dyar, H. 1935. Limacodidae. In A. Seitz, ed., The Macrolepidoptera of the world: The American Bombyces and Sphinges. 6:1104-1139. Kernen, Stuttgart. Genty, P. 1978. Morphologie et biologie d'un Lépidoptère défoliateur du palmier à huile en América latine, Stenoma cecropia Meyrick. Oleagineux 33: 421-427. Miller, S. E. In press. Revision of the Neotropical moth family Dalceridae (Lepidoptera). Mus. Comp. Zool. Bull. Orfila, R. N. 1961. Las Dalceridae (Lep. Zygaenoidea) Argentinas. Rev. Invest. Agric. (Castelar, Argentina) 15: 249-264. Young, A. M. 1986. Notes on a Costa Rican "monkey slug" (Limacodidae). J. Lepidop. Soc. 40: 69-71.

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