This 15 May 2020 video says about itself:
You may have seen a picture of something looking like a caterpillar and gummy bear had a one night stand, but there’s more to these little jelly babies than meets the eye!
This 2016 video from the USA says about itself:
This 2-minute video is a 4x Time-lapse rendering of the blossoming flower and half-time slow motion of the Sphinx Moth (aka Hummingbird Moth, Hawk Moth, or Luna Moth). Captured on July 16 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at approximately 8:30 PM.
From University College London in England:
Moths have a secret but vital role as pollinators in the night
May 12, 2020
Moths are important pollen transporters in English farmland and might play a role in supporting crop yields, according to a new UCL study.
The research, published in Biology Letters, shows that moth pollen transport networks are larger and more complex than networks for daytime pollinators.
The study also shows that pollen transport occurs most frequently on the moth’s ventral thorax (chest), rather than on the proboscis (tongue), allowing it to be easily transferred to other plants. Lead author of the study, Dr Richard Walton (UCL Geography) said: “Nocturnal moths have an important but overlooked ecological role. They complement the work of daytime pollinators, helping to keep plant populations diverse and abundant. They also provide natural biodiversity back-up, and without them, many more plant species and animals, such as birds and bats that rely on them for food, would be at risk.
“Previous studies of pollen transport among settling moths have focused on their proboscis. However, settling moths sit on the flower while feeding, with their often distinctly hairy bodies touching the flower’s reproductive organs. This happy accident helps pollen to be easily transported during subsequent flower visits.”
This pivotal study comes at the time as moth populations are experiencing steep declines across the globe, with worrying implications that we may be losing critical pollination services at a time when we are barely beginning to understand them.
Dr Jan Axmacher (UCL Geography) said: “In recent decades, there has been a lot of science focus on solitary and social bees driven by concerns about their dramatic decline and the strong negative effect this has had on insect-pollinated crop yields.
“In contrast, nocturnal settling moths — which have many more species than bees — have been neglected by pollination research. Our study highlights an urgent need for them to be included in future agricultural management and conservation strategies to help stem declines, and for more research to understand their unique and vital role as pollinators, including their currently unknown role in crop pollination.”
The study was conducted during the growing seasons (March-October) of 2016 and 2017 at the margins of nine ponds, located within agricultural fields in Norfolk, eastern England (UK).
Nocturnal moth communities and daytime pollinators were surveyed once a month to see which plants they visited and how frequently.
Of the 838 moths swabbed, 381 moths (45.5%) were found to transport pollen. In total pollen from 47 different plant species was detected, including at least 7 rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies. 57% of the pollen transported was found on the ventral thorax of the moths.
In comparison, daytime pollinators, a network of 632 bees, wasps, hoverflies and butterflies, visited 45 plant species, while 1,548 social bees visited 46 plant species.
Dr Walton (UCL Geography) concluded: “While bumblebees and honeybees are known to be super pollinators they also preferentially target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources.
“Moths may appear to be less effective pollinators by comparison, but their high diversity and abundance may make them critical to pollination in ways that we still need to understand. Our research sheds light on a little known world of nocturnal plant-insect interactions that might be vital to the look and smell of our precious countryside and to the crops that we grow.”
The research was funded by the Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service and the Norfolk-based farming charity The Clan Trust.
This 2019 video is called Watch This Caterpillar Turn Into A Chinese Luna Moth | The Dodo.
From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:
Lyin’ eyes: Butterfly, moth eyespots may look the same, but likely evolved separately
May 6, 2020
The iconic eyespots that some moths and butterflies use to ward off predators likely evolved in distinct ways, providing insights into how these insects became so diverse.
A new study manipulated early eyespot development in moth pupae to test whether this wing pattern develops similarly in butterflies and moths. The results suggest that the underlying development of eyespots differs even among moth species in the same family, hinting that moths and butterflies evolved these patterns independently.
Influencing how eyespots form can lead to a better understanding of the respective roles genetics and the environment play in moth and butterfly wing patterns, said lead author Andrei Sourakov.
“Moths stumbled on a very successful evolutionary design over 200 million years ago,” said Sourakov, collections coordinator of the Florida Museum’s McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. “That’s a long time for evolution to take place. It’s easy to assume that things that look the same are the same. But nature constantly finds a way of answering the same question with a different approach.”
Sourakov and co-author Leila Shirai, a biologist at the University of Campinas in Brazil, analyzed eyespot development in io and polyphemus moths, two species in the Saturniidae family. The eyespots in the two species responded differently to the study’s treatments, though the findings suggest the same signaling pathways were active. The researchers also found moths’ wing pattern development, which begins when they are caterpillars, slows just after they enter their pupal stage, a finding that echoes previous butterfly research.
Honing in on the signaling pathways involved in eyespot development — the molecular cascade that produces pigmentation and pattern in moths and butterflies — is central to determining the similarities and differences between moth and butterfly development, Sourakov said. Looking at DNA isn’t enough. Instead, scientists need to determine what happens after a gene is expressed to see if seemingly identical wing patterns truly are the same.
“Genetically controlled variation can look identical to environmentally induced variation,” Sourakov said. “Variation isn’t really produced by genes themselves, but by the intermediate product of the gene — in this case, molecular pathways.”
Sourakov and Shirai’s research expands on a 2017 study by Sourakov that showed molecules in the blood thinner heparin influenced eyespot development in moths.
In the new study, heparin triggered various changes in moth eyespots, including smudging and a shift in proportion. Despite similar molecular interactions, however, the changes were inconsistent between the io and polyphemus moths, potentially due to the different ways their wing patterns are mapped out by genes.
Sourakov and Shirai were able to detect wing development was likely paused just after pupation by delivering varying doses of heparin to caterpillars and pupae at different developmental stages. They also found eyespot tissue transplanted to a different region of the wing during pupation could induce patterning.
Natural history collections are key resources in revealing which wing patterns took hold genetically and became visible in populations, Sourakov said.
“Collections are where it all starts and where it all ends, frankly,” he said. “We can generally look at collections as a window into evolution, helping us understand which changes are just lab results and which ones can actually be observed in nature. Variation in genetics and physical characteristics is the toolbox for the evolution of diversity, and diversity is what we study at the museum. Collections help us understand that.”
This 27 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:
The first episode of Insect Xaminer features gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar). Join UMass Extension as we get an up-close and personal view of this invasive insect’s life cycle and two pathogens that help keep gypsy moth populations below outbreak levels in Massachusetts.
Gypsy moth larvae love poplar leaves infected by fungi
April 20, 2020
Black poplar leaves infected by fungi are especially susceptible to attack by gypsy moth caterpillars. A research team at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, has now further investigated this observation. The scientists found that the young larvae of this herbivore upgrade their diet with fungal food: Caterpillars that fed on leaves covered with fungal spores grew faster and pupated a few days earlier than those feeding only on leaf tissue. The higher concentrations of important nutrients in fungi, such as amino acids, nitrogen and vitamins, are probably the reason for their better performance. The results shed new light on the co-evolution of plants and insects, in which fungi and other microorganisms play a much greater role than previously assumed.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are known as feeding generalists; this means they accept a large variety of deciduous trees species and shrubs as their food plants. Outbreaks of this species have been documented every now and then also in German forest ecosystems.
Sybille Unsicker and her research team are investigating how poplars defend themselves against herbivores, including the gypsy moth. The scientists had observed that these trees downregulate their defense against the voracious insect when they are simultaneously being attacked by fungi. “We noticed that caterpillars are attracted by the odor of fungus-infested poplars, so we wondered why this is so: Would the caterpillars prefer to feed on infested leaves as well? Would this provide an advantage? And if so, what kind of chemicals are responsible for this?” first author Franziska Eberl asks, describing the basic questions of the study.
Feeding experiments in which the gypsy moth larvae were offered a choice of leaves with or without fungal infection revealed the clear preference of the caterpillars for leaves infected with fungi. In the early larval stage, they even consumed the fungal spores on the leaf surface before feeding on leaf tissue. “Whether rust fungi or mildew, young caterpillars selectively fed on the spores and preferred to feed on infected leaves,” explains Franziska Eberl. Chemical analyses showed that mannitol, a substance that is also used as an artificial sweetener in human food, is primarily responsible for this preference. Eberl also monitored larval fitness, which is shown by how well larvae develop — a measurement that depends largely on their diet. “Larvae that consume fungus-infected leaves develop faster and also pupate earlier. This gives them an advantage over their siblings who feed on healthy leaves. Important nutrients, such as amino acids, nitrogen and B vitamins, are likely responsible for increased growth, because their concentration is higher infected leaves,” said the researcher.
The role of microorganisms puts the co-evolution of plants and insects in a new light
The observation that an insect classified as an herbivore is actually a fungivore — at least in its early larval stage — was a real surprise for the research team. “Our results suggest that microorganisms living on plants might have a more important role in the co-evolution of plants and insects than previously thought,” says Sybille Unsicker, head of the study. “In the black poplar trees from our study, fungal infestation occurs every year. It is therefore indeed imaginable that herbivorous insects have been able to adapt to the additional fungal resource. Especially with regards to the longevity of trees, the evolutionary adaptation to a diet consisting of leaves and fungi seems plausible for such insects.”
Further investigations are needed to clarify how widespread fungivory is in other herbivorous insect species and what influence the combination of plant and fungal food has on the immune system of insects. It is possible that this food niche also has an effect on the insects’ own defense against their enemies, such as parasitoid wasps. The role of microorganisms in the interactions between plants and insects has long been underestimated, even overlooked. This study is an important step to make up for that neglect.
This is a hummingbird hawk-moth video, recorded in a garden in the Netherlands.
A bit further, a bigger relative of whimbrels, this curlew.
Then, a flock of hundreds of dunlin and redshanks. And greenshanks.
Two meadow pipits on a pole and a fence.
There was also one closer to the shore.
As we walk back, we see a big moth on a fence: a convolvulus hawk moth.
Near Oosterend, a buzzard on a pole.
Stay tuned, as there will be more about Terschelling on 22 September 2019!
In this 20 August 2019 video, a gypsy moth lays eggs. Usually, the females of that species lay their eggs on trees. But in this video, she lays her eggs on a wall in the Netherlands; in the backyard of Dorry van Gelderen, who made the video. The female will cover the eggs with hair from the rear end of her body.
This 4 July 2019 video is about six-spot burnet moths.
Gré Pape-Wichers in the Netherlands made this video.
This 2 July 2019 video is about a leopard moth.
Luuk Punt in the Netherlands made this video.