Tuesday, 21 June 2011

It used to be a cannibal...

I had the trap out all ready yesterday evening because it was lovely and warm. But as night fell, so did the rain. I was saved, in terms of having something to post, by my brother-in-law who came for a weekend walk with us and showed me this moth caught in a bowl of gypsophila on top of his TV.

It took some disentangling but here it is; dull to look at but quite an interesting insect. It's a Bee Moth, notable for having one of the few carnivorous caterpillars found among UK species. They live as guests in wasps and bees' nest (though not commercial hives) and then ungratefully turn on the wasp or bee larvae when they are big enough to subdue and eat them without a fight.

Yuk. The adults don't go in for any of this sort of thing, though. Those secateur-style nippers they have on their heads (as visible below during the moth's getaway) are palps, sensitory organs as recently described in a post on the Snout moth. The Bee moth is also interesting in that the females have (slightly) brighter and more interesting wing-colour and patterning than the extremely boring males, such as this one. It's usually the other way round.


Jane said...

Hi martin, finally my need to see the most boring moth has been satisfied.:-)well done ! Thanks for that,
hope your traps yield lots of lovely moths

MartinWainwright said...

Hi Jane. Yes I agree. The poor old Bee Moth hasn't been done any favours. Maybe that's soured its caterpillars and turned them into cannibals. All v best as ever M