Thursday, May 19, 2011

Io Moth

I got a suggestion the other day to write about a moth from the Saturniidae family, and boy are there a lot of choices! The family is comprised of over 1,300 species, and the group as a whole is made up of some of the largest moths out there. Selecting just one to talk about was quite a challenge!

Io Moth
But select I did, and I chose today's animal, the Io Moth, for two reasons. The first is that it is a very pretty moth, sporting bright yellow wings and huge dark eyespots. The second reason is that they are one of the northernmost species in the Saturniidae family. many of their cousins are found in tropical and subtropical regions, but Io Moths make regions as far north as Manitoba their home.

The Io Moth lives an interesting life. After hatching from their eggs the Caterpillars are gregarious, flocking from plant to plant with a need to devour and grow. Because so many can be found in one location, the Caterpillars grow toxic spines to keep the predators away. They go through several growth phases (instars), changing color from brown to green as they increase in size.

The Caterpillars eventually build cocoons and pupate, and after hatching in their adult form it takes only about 20 minutes for their wings to fully inflate. The adults are nocturnal, and seek each other out for mating using pheromones. After mating and laying eggs the adults essentially wait to die... the eating their did as Caterpillars will be the only eating they ever know. Adults have no mouth parts, and can not feed.

IUCN Status :  Not listed
Location : North America
Size : Wingspan up to 3.5in (9cm)
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Lepidoptera
Family : Saturniidae -- Genus : Automeris -- Species : A. io

2 comments:

  1. We found one and at frist it wouldn't fly so we brought it into the biology class and afterwards we look him up and before we could find him on the internet he strted to fly so we let him back outside! He was a beatuiful lo moth!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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