Saturniidae

Saturniids
Enlarge picture
Promethea silkmoth, Callosamia promethea

Promethea silkmoth, Callosamia promethea
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Order:Lepidoptera
(unranked)Macrolepidoptera
Superfamily:Bombycoidea
Family:Saturniidae
Subfamilies


Oxyteninae
Cercophaninae
Arsenurinae
Ceratocampinae
Hemileucinae
Agliinae
Ludiinae
Salassinae
Saturniinae
The Saturniidae, collectively known as saturniids, are among the largest and most spectacular of the Lepidoptera, with an estimated 1,300 to 1,500 different described species existing worldwide (Grimaldi and Engel, 2005). The Saturniidae family includes the giant silkmoths, royal moths, and emperor moths.

Adults are characterized by large size, heavy bodies covered in hair-like scales, lobed wings, reduced mouthparts, and small heads. They lack a frenulum but the hind wings overlap the forewings, producing the same function (Tuskes et al., 1996). These moths are sometimes brightly colored and often have translucent eyespots or windows on their wings. Sexual dimorphism varies by species, but males can always be distinguished by their larger, broader antennae. Most adults possess wingspans between 1 to 6 inches (2.5 to 15 cm), but some tropical species, such as the atlas moth (Attacus atlas), may boast incredible wingspans of up to 12 inches (30 cm).

Distribution

The majority of saturniid species occur in wooded tropical or subtropical regions, with the greatest diversity in the New World Tropics and Mexico (Tuskes et al., 1996), though they are found all over the world. There are approximately one dozen described species living in Europe, one of which, the Emperor Moth, occurs in the British Isles, and 68 described species living in North America, 42 of which reside north of Mexico and Southern California.

Life cycle

Some saturniids produce more than one brood a year. Spring and summer broods hatch in a matter of weeks; autumn broods enter a state known as diapause and emerge the following spring. How the pupae know when to hatch early or hibernate is not yet fully understood, though research suggests that day length during the larvae's 5th instar plays a major role. Longer days may prompt pupae to develop early, while shorter days result in pupal diapause. The number of broods is flexible, and a single female may produce both fast-developing and slow-developing individuals, or they may produce different numbers of broods in different years or parts of the range (Tuskes et al., 1996). In some species, spring and summer broods look different, with different genes activated by environmental conditions (Actias luna, Callosamia securifera) (Tuskes et al., 1996).

Eggs

Depending on the moth, a single female may lay up to 200 eggs on a chosen host plant. Others lay singly or in small groups (Scoble, 1995). They are round, slightly flattened, smooth and translucent or whitish.

Larvae

Saturniid larvae are large (50 to 100 mm in the final instar), stout and cylindrical. Most have tubercules that are often also spiny or hairy. (The other caterpillars in this size range are the Sphingidae, which are seldom hairy and tend to have diagonal stripes on their sides.) Many are cryptic in coloration, with countershading or disruptive coloration to reduce detection, but some are more colourful. Some have stinging hairs (Scoble 1995). Most are solitary feeders, but again, some are gregarious. The Hemileucinae have stinging hairs and are gregarious when young (Tuskes et al., 1996). Most larvae feed on the foliage of trees and shrubs, a few, such as Automeris louisiana and A. patagonensis feed on grasses. They moult at regular intervals, usually four to six times before entering the pupal stage. Prior to pupation, there is a wandering stage, and they may change colour, becoming more cryptic just before this stage (Tuskes et al., 1996).

Enlarge picture
Brazilian Saturniid larva
Enlarge picture
Saturnia pyri Giant peacock moth larva

Pupae

Most larvae spin a silken cocoon in the leaves of a preferred host plant or in leaf litter on the ground, or crevices in rocks and logs. While not closely related to the silkworm (Bombyx mori, Bombycidae), these cocoons can be gathered and used to make silk fabric. However, larvae of the regal moth (Citheronia regalis) and imperial moth (Eacles imperialis) burrow and pupate in a small chamber beneath the soil. This is common in the Ceratocampinae and Hemileucinae. Unlike most silk moths, those that pupate underground do not use much silk in the construction (Tuskes et al., 1996). Once enclosed in the cocoon, pupae undergo metamorphosis.

Adults

Adult females emerge with a complete set of mature ova and "call" males by emitting pheromones (specific "calling" times vary by species). Males can detect these chemical signals up to a mile away with help from sensitive receptors located on the tips of their featherlike antennae. The males will fly several miles in one night to locate a female and mate with her; females generally will not fly until after they have mated.

Since the mouthparts of adult saturniids are vestigial and digestive tracts are absent and adults subsist on stored lipids acquired during the larval stage. As such, adult behavior is devoted almost entirely to reproduction, but the end result (due to lack of feeding) is a lifespan of a week or less.

Importance

A few species are important defoliators, including Coloradia pandora on pines, Hemileuca oliviae on range grasses, Anisota senatoria on oaks. Other species provide silk for fabric, such as Samia cynthia and Antheraea pernyi.

Species

(Note: This list is by no means complete.)

References

  • Burnie, David (2001). Smithsonian: Animal. First American Edition, Oct 2001. DK Publishing Inc., 375 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014.
  • Mitchell, Robert T (2002). Butterflies and Moths: A Golden Guide From St. Martin's Press. St. Martin's Press, New York.
  • Scoble, MJ. 1995. The Lepidoptera: Form, Function and Diversity. Second ed. Oxford University Press.
  • Tuskes, PM, JP Tuttle and MM Collins. 1996. The wild silk moths of North America. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3130-1

External links



Arthropoda - Insecta - Families of Lepidoptera
C. promethea

Binomial name
Callosamia promethea
Drury, 1773

The Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea), is a member of the Saturniidae family of moths.

Range

C.
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Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. Scientific classification also can be called scientific taxonomy, but should be distinguished from folk taxonomy, which lacks scientific basis.
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Arthropoda
Latreille, 1829

Subphyla and Classes
  • Subphylum Trilobitomorpha
  • Trilobita - trilobites (extinct)
  • Subphylum Chelicerata

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Insecta
Linnaeus, 1758

Orders
Subclass Apterygota
* Archaeognatha (bristletails)
* Thysanura (silverfish)
Subclass Pterygota
* Infraclass Paleoptera (Probably paraphyletic)

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Clipper Parthenos sylvia]]
The Clipper Parthenos sylvia


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda
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Macrolepidoptera

Superfamilies

see text

Macrolepidoptera is a group within the insect order Lepidoptera. Traditionally used for the larger butterflies and moths as opposed to the "Microlepidoptera", this group is unnatural.
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Bombycoidea

Diversity
Over 3,500 species

Families

Apatelodidae
Bombycidae
Brahmaeidae
Carthaeidae
Endromididae
Eupterotidae
Lemoniidae
Saturniidae
Sphingidae
Synonyms

Sphingoidea

Bombycoidea
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Scientific classification or biological classification is a method by which biologists group and categorize species of organisms. Scientific classification also can be called scientific taxonomy, but should be distinguished from folk taxonomy, which lacks scientific basis.
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Saturniinae

Genera

Some 20, see text.

The Saturniinae are a subfamily of the Family Saturniidae. These are medium to very large-sized moths, with adult wingspans ranging from 7.5 to 15 cm.
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Clipper Parthenos sylvia]]
The Clipper Parthenos sylvia


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda
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species is one of the basic units of biological classification. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring.
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Frenula redirects here. For the brachiopod genus, see Frenula (brachiopod)
A frenulum (or frenum, plural: frenula or frena, from the Latin frēnulum, "little bridle", the diminutive of frēnum
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moth is an insect closely related to the butterfly. Both are of the order Lepidoptera. The division of Lepidopterans into moths and butterflies is a popular taxonomy, not a scientific one.
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Sexual dimorphism is the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species. Examples include size, color, and the presence or absence of parts of the body used in courtship displays or fights, such as ornamental feathers, horns, antlers or tusks.
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Antennae (singular antenna) are paired appendages connected to the front-most segments of arthropods. In crustaceans, they are biramous and present on the first two segments of the head, with the smaller pair known as antennules.
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A. atlas

Binomial name
Attacus atlas
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas
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tropics are the geographic region of the Earth centered on the equator and limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere, at approximately 23°30' (23.5°) N latitude, and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at 23°30' (23.5°) S latitude.
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The subtropics are the zones of the Earth immediately north and south of the tropic zone, which is bounded by the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, at latitude 23.5 ° north and south.
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Anthem
Himno Nacional Mexicano


Capital
(and largest city) Mexico City

Official languages Spanish (
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Europe is one of the seven traditional continents of the Earth. Physically and geologically, Europe is the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, west of Asia. Europe is bounded to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea,
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P. pavonia

Binomial name
Pavonia pavonia
Linnaeus, 1758

The Emperor Moth (Pavonia pavonia) is a moth of the family Saturniidae. It is sometimes placed in the genus Saturnia.
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British Isles<nowiki />

The British Isles in relation to mainland Europe

Geography <nowiki/>
Location Western Europe <nowiki /> <nowiki />
Total islands 6,000+<nowiki />

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North America is a continent [1] in the Earth's northern hemisphere and (chiefly) western hemisphere. It is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the southeast by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west
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Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region,
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Biostasis is the ability of an organism to tolerate environmental changes without having to actively adapt to them. The word is also used as a synonym for cryostasis or cryonics. It is found in organisms that live in habitats that may encounter unfavourable living conditions (ie.
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instar is a developmental stage of arthropods, such as insects, between each moult (ecdysis), until sexual maturity is reached. Arthropods must shed the exoskeleton in order to grow or assume a new form.
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In biology, a host is an organism that harbors a virus or parasite, or a mutual or commensal symbiont, typically providing nourishment and shelter. In botany, a host plant is one that supplies food resources and substrate for certain insects or other fauna.
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Ecdysis is the moulting of the cuticula in arthropods and related groups (Ecdysozoa). Since the cuticula of these animals is also the skeletal support of the body and is inelastic, it is shed during growth and a new, larger covering is formed. The old skin is called an exuvia.
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In biology, a host is an organism that harbors a virus or parasite, or a mutual or commensal symbiont, typically providing nourishment and shelter. In botany, a host plant is one that supplies food resources and substrate for certain insects or other fauna.
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