Journal archives for May 2018

May 21, 2018

Moth and privet...

So, I was just flipping through my new favorite field guide, Moths of Southeastern North America by Seabrooke Leckie (@seabrookeleckie ) and David Beadle, and I stumbled upon the genus Palpita — these are really pretty moths, and I’ve only seen a few.

Well, I noticed a particularly interesting comment on the host plant for the species Palpita atrisquamalis (“Gracile Palpita”) on page 224... “HOSTS: Can be a pest on ornamental privet.” I’ve searched around a little bit, but I can’t seem to find a source for this specific species... Another species of Palpita has been documented in China as wonderful pest of Ligustrum quihoui: http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-KCZS200501021.htm

Hmmm... I wonder if these caterpillars eat all species of privets? We have a major issue with privet in Texas as an invasive species (4 species), and I wonder if this moth can be raised on the various species we have... And, if they can be raised on our invasive privets, I wonder if they could be used as a mechanism of control (if not complete control, perhaps they can be used as assistance control).

It does beg the question: privet it amazingly abundant here, so why isn’t the moth? If there are plentiful resources, wouldn’t there be an overabundance of this species of moth? I’m not sure... Perhaps it doesn’t use the privets we have if offered other species to eat... Or, there may be so many predator pressures that keep this species in check...

So, who wants to do some experiments with me? :)

First of all, we need some adults... Now, I only seen a single one, so I’m really going to start keeping an eye open for more. Quite a few folks here on iNat have observed them. And I know that even a few folks have quite a bit of experience raising caterpillars of various species...

Here are some websites that show the adults:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=5220
https://bugguide.net/node/view/90182/bgimage
http://www.boldsystems.org/index.php/Taxbrowser_Taxonpage?taxid=450516

If you do see one, try to collect it alive, put it in a container with some meshing (for air) and toss in some privet with it. If you’re able to get various species of privet, cool. If you can just find one species of privet, try just that one. See if the adult (well, only females, although I’m not sure how to tell the sexes apart) lays her eggs on the privet. You don’t have to raise the caterpillars unless you want to — if you’re able to hold on to the eggs, I can perhaps come by and pick them up...

If nothing else, we can at least add a caterpillar image onto bugguide for this specific species! :) Maybe we can try this with the other species of Palpita too…

I’m just kinda thinking out loud on this journal post. Please chime in with some other ideas and suggestions — and let me know if you want to experiment with this! :) This is an iNat-driven project, so let’s do it together (again, only if you want to!).

Posted on May 21, 2018 16:02 by sambiology sambiology | 30 comments | Leave a comment