Friday 25 March 2016

Teinotarsina aurantiaca: A new species of Clear-winged Moth from Okinawa.

Clear-winged Moths, Sensiidae, are found across much of the globe, being particulalry numerous in the tropics. They lack the wing scales typical of Lepidopterans (Butterflies and Moths), instead having clear wings, combined with body-shapes and colouration resembling that of Wasps or Hornets. This is considered to be an example of Batesian Mimicry (a harmless organism evolving to resemble a harmful one) which enables the Moths to be active during daylight hours without suffering heavy predation. The larvae of Clear-winged Moths bore into wood or plant roots, with some species being considered agricultural pests.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 7 March 2016, Sadahisa Yagi and Toshiya Hirowatari of the Entomological Laboratory at Kyushu University, and Yutaka Arita of the Zoological laboratory at Meijo University, describe a new species of Clear-winged Moth from Okinawa Island, Japan.

The new species is placed in the genus Teinotarsina, and given the specific name aurantiaca, meaning 'orange'. Like other members of the genus Teinotarsina it is long-legged, and resembles an Ichneumon Wasp, but unlike any other member of the genus it has extensive orange markings. The species is described from a single male specimen found dead by a roadside. Nothing is known about the life habbits of the living Moth, and the females and larvae are unknown.

Teinotarsina aurantiaca, male specimen. Yagi et al. (2016).

The orange colouration of Teinotarsina aurantiaca is unique within the genus, but many Wasps on Okinawa do exhibit orange or red colouration not seen in close relatives on nearby landmasses, an example of Müllerian mimicry (harmful organisms coming to resemble one-another, to present would-be predators with a comon warning signal), a pattern which Teinotarsina aurantiaca also appears to have adopted.

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