Tuesday 24 September 2013

A new species of Dioptinid Moth from Cuba.

Dioptinid Moths are large day flying Moths from the neotropics. They are often brightly coloured, and often mimic unpalatable Moth or Butterfly species. Their larvae are often brightly coloured, and may be toxic.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 20 September 2013, Rayner Núñez Aguila of the División de Colecciones Zoológicas y Sistemática at the Instituto de Ecología y Sistemática in Havana describes a new species of Dioptinid Moth from western Cuba.

The new species is named Eremonidiopsis aggregata, where 'Eremonidiopsis' means 'resembling Eremonidia'; a Dioptinid Moth from Hispaniola, and 'aggregata' means found in groups. The Moth is described from the male only, which is a 12 mm Insect with a uniform dark brown colouration except for the lower part of the head, which is bright orange. The Moths were found flying in groups of 10-15 individuals around the tops of small trees, 3-4 m above the ground. 

Eremonidiopsis aggregata, male specimen. Núñez Aguila (2013).

They were found at at two separate locations, one in the Pico Cristal National Park near La Zoilita and the other in the Alexander von Humbolt National Park near the Jaguaní river east of La Melba, on the southeastern slope of the El Toldo plateau. Interestingly these two sites have quite different climates, with the Alexander von Humbolt National Park being in lowland rainforest that receives around 3400 mm of rain annually, typically raining on 240 days per year, and has a temperature that varies between 22 and 26°C, while the Pico Cristal National Park site is cooler and drier, typically receiving only 1900 mm of rain per year and with temperatures between 19 and 24°C.

(Top) Habitat in the rainforest of the Alaxander von Humbolt National Park. (Bottom) Habitat in the seasonal dryforest of the Pico Cristal National Park. Núñez Aguila (2013).