Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Mistletoe Specialist

Dachetola azora Caterpillar

Dachetola azora Caterpillar
Image: Entomologica Americana*

Only the adult stages of some insects are known, the immatures are either undocumented or cannot be associated with the adult. Brazilian scientists* found unknown caterpillars feeding on mistletoe in the Atlantic forest of Brazil. They took pictures and notes of the caterpillars and successfully reared them in their laboratory. When they emerged from the chrysalis, they were identified as Dachetola azora a beautiful tropical metalmark butterfly. The food and larvae had been previously unknown. Larvae were found resting on mistletoe. Female butterflies attempted to oviposit on mistletoe. The scientists concluded that Dachetola azora is a specialist that feeds only on mistletoe, an unusual host for butterflies including metalmarks

*Lucas A. Kaminski, Luísa L. Mota, and André V. L. Freitas. 2014. Larval cryptic coloration and mistletoe use in the metalmark butterfly Dachetola azora. Entomologica Americana 120:18-23.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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