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Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Moth Report for Nicaragua

The planet earth has perhaps four million species of animals, plants and other living organisms, of which we have documented a small proportion. Even of those documented species, not much is known about many of them. Our knowledge of what these species need to continue to survive in healthy, stable populations is vital to prevent drastic loss of biodiversity.

The twenty-first century will be characterized as the century of massive species extinctions due to the intereference of man over nature. Many of the effects of man until now have had localized effects on species, whereas this century will see many species crash completely, never to be found in nature again.

Our group has been conducting monitoring of several groups of flora and fauna in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve during the past three years, and during this period, we have documented many species not previously reported in the reserve, and in some cases, not even reported in Nicaragua. In particular, the moths of Nicaragua are poorly reported, in spite of noble and effective work of several scientists such as Jean-Michel Maes. Our group has made several first reports of moth species in Nicaragua, and here we present one more.

nature tours Nicaragua
Ventral view of Lirimiris truncata. Photo by Pablo Somarriba.
Lirimiris truncata is documented from Mexico to Venezuela, but it there is no record of it found in Nicaragua. It is a member of the family Notodontidae, of which only eleven species have been documented in Nicaragua. Its larva have been found on trees such as Cordia alliodora (Black Laurel) and Guazuma ulmifolia (West Indian Elm), both of which are abundant in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve and the Pacific eco-region of Nicaragua.

moth Nicaragua
Dorsal view of Lirimiris truncata. Photo by Pablo Somarriba.
The trailing edge of the forewing of this species, like many in its family, is "hairy". Some of the species in this family are called "kittens" because of this effect. The adult moths in this family do not eat, but they have elaborately feathered antennae. This species also has a characteristic opaque band along the leading edge of the forewing. Its colors are not bright nor are its patterns particularly rich like some other moth species. Furthermore, this individual had lost many of its wing scales upon capture and handling.

butteflies and moths Lirimiris
Antennae of Lirimiris truncata are prominently feathered up throughout the proximal three-quarters of the antenna length. Photo by Pablo Somarriba.
We have made first record documentations for more than one hundred species of moths and butterflies for the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, and dozens of these records are first records for the entire country as well. We still have much to do in this work, however. Our biodiversity studies depend on donations and volunteers. Would you like to help us study and protect the biodiversity of Nicaragua? Please contact us if you would like to help.
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