On the way out of the office for lunch, my eye was caught by a brownish clump hanging from the front-office window of the Office of International Research and Education and Development. My first silly thought was, what a joke! Somebody knew the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab was housed within this building, replete with Director Muniappan’s large insect collection, which displays moths from all over the world. Some clever prankster hung these amazingly life-like moths in a compromising position. After an embarrassingly long moment, I recognized that my imagined scenario was a little too elaborate. Plus, when I got closer, the giant tan moth on the left moved its front legs.
Communications Director Miriam Rich, who took the picture, speculated that the three little doodly-doos on the brick below the love bugs might be their eggs. Unfortunately, our resident entomologist, Dr. “Muni” Muniappan, is currently in India hosting a workshop on seed and seedling-borne diseases of vegetable crops and is not here to identify the moth species or if those are indeed eggs.
Help us out! Who are these guys?
Muni returned to us safe and sound and promptly identified these moths as Antheraea Polyphemus moths in the family of Saturniidae. Moths in the Saturniidae family are known as Royal Moths. They feed on leaves of trees and shrubs and may have a wingspan exceeding six inches. Adults do not feed and thus die a few days after emergence from the cocoon. But it looks like these two made good use of their time.
IPM Innovation Lab team members collected a few of the many eggs they laid for observation the next morning. Yay Science!