FWD: Metamorphosis Of Butterflies GEHP

Robert Thorn Thorn at cc.denison.edu
Tue Mar 24 07:25:32 EST 1998

As an addendum to Joe Kunkel's great synopsis of Gypsy moths, I should
point out that gypsies are not by any means the only 'female-flightless'
moth.  Several respondents have already mentioned the very unusual
bagworms.  A variety of other, different temperate forest species have
also taken up this tactic.  Almost all of them have adult stages in the
early Spring or late Fall, presumably to help their flightless forms
avoid the masses of neotropical migrant insectivorous birds during the
warmer seasons.  Probably the best known species after the gypsies are
the geometrid cankerworms of the genus Alsophila.  They also have
ballooning larvae that disperse.

Most 'flightless female' forms are found in forest species of the
families Lymantriidae and Geometridae.  There seem to be few, if any,
good records of flightless female butterfly species, but perhaps someone
on the List can correct that impression.  A good examination of the
phenomenon can be found in Barbosa, Krischik, and Lance (1989)  American
Midland naturalist, vol. 122, pp. 262-274.

Rob Thorn,  thorn at denison.edu

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