KUALA LUMPUR: Polish researchers had rediscovered a moth in Malaysia which was previously known only from a 130-year-old museum specimen collected in Indonesia.
The Oriental blue clearwing (Heterosphecia tawonoides) was rediscovered in Taman Negara, Pahang by Marta Skowron Volponi, a Ph.D. student from Poland’s University of Gdansk and lead author of a paper about the moth which was recently published in the journal Tropical Conservation Science.
Mongabay.com reported that when Volponi first encountered the Oriental blue clearwing and noticed the blue sheen of the moth’s wings as well as its reflective, metallic blue scales, she knew right away that the discovery was unique.
The website said Volponi and the research paper’s co-author Paolo Volponi (Skowron’s husband) have now observed 12 Oriental blue clearwing individuals in the wild.
Mongabay.com is a web site which publishes news on environmental science, energy, and green design, and features extensive information on tropical rainforests.
The Clearwing moths are known for their bee-mimicking appearances, and the Oriental blue clearwing is no exception.
They have legs like bees, bright blue bands on their abdomens (bees in Southeast Asia can be a variety of colours, including blue), and furry bodies that resemble those of bees — though the moths’ “fur” is actually elongated scales.
By assuming the appearance of and fraternizing with bees, Volponi theorised, clearwing moths are probably better able to evade predators who fear getting a stinger in the mouth when what they’re looking for is a good meal, the website said.
“You think about moths and you envision a grey, hairy insect that is attracted to light,” Volponi said in a statement.
“But this species is dramatically different — it is beautiful, shiny blue in sunlight and it comes out during the day; and it is a master of disguise, mimicking bees on multiple levels and even hanging out with them. The Oriental blue clearwing is just two centimeters in size, but there are so many fascinating things about them and so much more we hope to learn.”
In fact, the Oriental blue clearwing not only looks and behaves like a bee, but may even buzz like a bee.