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Acta Trop. 1975;32(2):125-44.

Skin-piercing blood-sucking moths I: ecological and ethological studies on Calpe eustrigata (Lepid., noctuidae).

Abstract

The Noctuid Calpe [Calyptral] eustrigata Hmps. was reported as a skin-piercing blood-sucking moth for the first time in Malaya (Bänziger, 1968) and is so far the only lepidopteran proved to suck blood by means of a piercing act. A few field observations and the description of the piercing behaviour of caged moths were given. Apart from a taxonomic study of the genus Calpe (Berio, 1956), a single record (Büttiker, 1969) and some notes on the moth's proboscis and possible evolutionary pathway (Bänziger, 1970, 1971, 1972) to our knowledge no other data have been published on the moth after its description as a new species (Hampson, 1926). The life cycle is completely unknown. From the scanty museum specimens available, it appears that the species inhabits South and Southeast Asia. A closely related, though less rare species, the fruit-piercing C. thalictri Bkh., has been used for a detailed study of the piercing mechanism likely to be adopted by Calpe (Bänziger, 1970); the feeding turned out to be as unusual as the feeding habits. Little or nothing is known about other Calpe species. C. eustrigata is not the only adult lepidopterous parasite of mammals. Lachryphagous ("eye-frequenting") moths feed as "marginal" parasites upon eye-secretions of ungulates, elephants and occasionally man (Shannon, 1928; Reid, 1954; Büttiker, 1964, 1967; Bänziger, 1966). Arcyophora species and the eulachryphagous Noctuid Lobocraspis graseifusa Hmps. which apparently feeds exclusively upon eye discharges, are suspected as vectors of eye diseases (Guilbride et al., 1959, Büttiker, 1964; Bänziger, 1972). While no lachryphagous moth is able to suck blood by a piercing act, there are a number of facultative lachryphagous moths which lick up the blood freely present at wounds, or that excreted anally by mosquitoes (Bänziger, 1969, 1972). Because of the scientific interest in C. eustrigata, research has been carried out to investigate different biological aspects of the species in Malaysia, Thailand. Laos and Indonesia (May 1971-May 1973). The first account presented here will be continued with a paper (in prep.) on the piercing mechanism and soon, it is hoped, with more information on the physiology, life cycle and medical importance of the moth.

PMID:
240258
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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