Casebearer Moth

2015 April 29

This long, slim moth from the August 10, 2014 porch-lighting had a body just 8 mm long. but the antennae stretch out long enough to just about double its body length.

While it looks pretty nondescript, the resting pose turns out to be a good ID feature, as very few micromoths perch with their antennae full forward like that (the “grass veneer” moths, which otherwise are the same size and shape, almost always drape their antennae over their backs instead). The pose is identical to what is seen in a lot of Casebearer Moths, like the Pistol Casebearers, in the genus Coleophora.

The caterpillars of casebearer moths will take pieces of the leaves they are eating, and tie them together with silk to make a case to protect their bodies. Basically, they are sewing clothing for themselves. The pistol casebearers make a case that curves around in kind of a pistol shape. They are evidently generalist feeders that will eat the leaves of a lot of different kinds of woody plants.

3 Responses
  1. April 29, 2015

    Great stuff! What’s in those antennae? One, long nerve?

  2. April 29, 2015

    It looks like antennae can be considered to be similar to our noses, only turned inside-out. There is a whole bundle of nerves running down the antennae, terminating in smell and taste receptors. They apparently also have sensors so that they can be used for touch, balance, orientation, and (in insects that have a Johnston’s Organ) hearing. It is even possible to tie into insect antennae to get the signal out, as an Electroantennogram.

    Basically, if you remove an insect’s antennae, they lose most of their senses other than sight.

  3. April 29, 2015

    Sounds like an avionics package. 🙂

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