Friday, February 5, 2016

Identifying a Bug, And Other Adventures

There are a LOT of bugs in the world, and plenty of them have decided to call Guatemala home! As you've seen on previous posts, we have lots of scorpions, beetles, ants, spiders, butterflies, and other multi-legged friends. :)

Bert called me outside the other day to show me a lovely moth that had landed on the porch. We snapped a few photos of the beautiful buggie-boo!
Such a beautiful little moth! Really bright blue iridescent body.
He was very lively! He wasn't flying much but was motoring around with his wee legs. He climbed all over my hand and arm!
I was super curious to know what type of moth it was, so I did my usual Google searches. The closest I could get was it was some type of Ctenucha moth, or Tiger moth. However, there are a bazillion species of them. (That's an estimate, hee hee!)

So I wrote to the awesome folks over at and...surprise! They actually got back to me! (They get a ton of questions all the time, I'm sure, so I was super pumped that they found my query interesting enough to pursue.) Here is what they said.

You are correct that this Tiger Moth is in the subtribe Ctenuchina, and we believe that it is in the genus Cyanopepla based on the image posted to Emtomofausac Insectos de Guatemala and the image on Neotropical Lepidoptera that is identified as  Cyanopepla bella, though we are not fully convinced that is the correct species.  We located several members of the genus online that look very similar, but none have the bold, unbroken red marking on the forewing.  We will contact Arctiinae expert Julian Donahue to see if he can provide a species. 
SECOND EMAIL from the expert:
As luck would have it, I think I've come close.
This is the original figure of Gangamela ira (Druce, 1896), described from Panama, which, it has been noted, is virtually identical to the figure of Cyanopepla beata Rothschild, 1912, also described from Panama.
At present, the two taxa remain as separate species in separate genera! If they are the same species, then the Druce name would have priority, but that still leaves the proper generic placement in question.
Note that your Guatemalan specimen has much more blue on the inner margin of the forewing, and may, in fact, be something completely different! But this is the closest I can come for now.  Julian.

Ooh, that's a lot of scientific speak, eh? Totally made me smile to hear the bug geeks getting excited about identifying an unusual specimen.

My love of animals, science, biology, wildlife, and all things natural started when I was knee-high to a grasshopper back in Canada. I have a clear memory of catching a beautiful unusual minnow in the trap at Camp and Dad helping me to send it to the University for identification. It turned out to be an Iowa Dace minnow. It obviously made quite an impact on my young mind to imprint such a memory on me!

Here are some other random photos from this past week. No more bugs, I promise!

I'm fascinated by the poinsettia tree in the alley. I wish you could see the colours better!
I was taking a picture upwards to the bright sky so the colors are not great.
A close-up on one of the cool orange flowers mixed in with the poinsettias.
 Teeny tiny purple blossom! They were strewn all over the street from a big bush.
One of the rare and beautiful street signs in Panajachel. What's interesting is this street is now referred to by most people as Calle Rancho Grande due to a large hotel complex. This is the old name, I guess. 
The elusive Gadget-Kitty. He is a very shy wild cat that lives behind our house. He looks like a cat I used to have named Gadget, who was a black smoke tabby. I've never seen his like...until now!
The Kittens. See the little black one peeking out from behind her brother? Adorable!
The Kittens, who still don't have proper names, amuse us every day with their antics and adorableness. They come running right up to the house when they hear the rattle of cat food.

To help them live long and happy lives, we took them to the AYUDA sterilization clinic this Thursday.
They were quite a handful, I was told! We had managed to lure them both into a crate using food, but the vet techs at the clinic had a difficult time trying to extract just ONE kitten when it came time for their surgeries. I was told there were leather gloves involved!
The surgeries were successful, and also confirmed that the all-black kitten is a girl and the black-and-white is a boy. (This might help with the naming, eh?)

We brought them home all doped up and sleepy, and they stayed in their crate overnight. This morning, I fed them soft food through the bars, which they gobbled up. What a treat! I put the crate back outside in the garden for a half hour so they could get their bearings, and then opened the door. They very timidly and gingerly stepped out, then limped up the hill into the bushes. Poor things! They must be sooooo sore!

It makes me nervous that they're out there with stitches and such, but there's not much more I can do. We don't have a place for them to be inside without Willow or the dogs. AYUDA assured me it would be okay. And it's true so far. The Kittens came down for some dinner as usual and, while not frisky, they weren't lethargic or ill-looking. I will be keeping a close eye on them!

Kitties unhappily ready to go to get fixed!
We've seen some gorgeous sunsets here on our walks near the lake, but my camera doesn't seem to be able to capture the full beauty. So I'm instead putting up a photo I stole from the Web. Enjoy!
Lake Atitlan at Sunset. I believe this is taken at Laguna Lodge, which is a super-fancy resort near Santa Cruz.

1 comment :

  1. Hey Cris, it was an Iowa Darter minnow not a dace. Good memory though. Keep on exploring.(Dad)