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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vampire Moth Discovered



From National Geographic News:

Only slight variations in wing patterns distinguish the Russian population from a widely distributed moth species, Calyptra thalictri, in central and southern Europe known to feed only on fruit.

When the Russian moths were experimentally offered human hands this summer, the insects drilled their hook-and-barb-lined tongues under the skin and sucked blood.
Entomologist Jennifer Zaspel at the University of Florida in Gainesville said the discovery suggests the moth population could be on an "evolutionary trajectory" away from other C. thalictri populations. This is the second population of vampire moths Zaspel and her team have found. They discovered the first in Russia in 2006.

"Based on geography, based on behavior, and based on a phenotypic variation we saw in the wing pattern, we can speculate that this represents something different, something new," Zaspel said.