Q:

What are the predators of the Madagascan sunset moth?

A:

Quick Answer

Natural predators of the Madagascan sunset moth remain unknown. The moth is best known for its wings, which feature numerous iridescent colors. Scientists suspect that the moths' wings are examples of aposematism, a defensive mechanism in which unpalatable or toxic creatures adorn themselves with bold colors that serve as a warning to potential predators.

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Full Answer

Many moths and caterpillars face their toughest challenges with predators while they are still in the caterpillar stage of their life cycles. Polistine wasps often hunt caterpillars and serve as important checks on their populations. However, polistine wasps do not appear to prey upon the caterpillars of sunset moths. Although scientists don't yet understand why this occurs, it's likely due to some type of chemical defense that the caterpillars possess.

Sunset moths were originally described by entomologist Dru Drury in 1773. Drury originally considered the insects to be butterflies because they rest with their wings folded over their backs, a helpful diagnostic criterion that usually provides accurate identification. However, they were later examined in more detail and reclassified as moths.

Sunset moth caterpillars spin silk while feeding to help them avoid falling from their host plants. If they do fall, the silken thread helps them climb back up to the plant.

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