Godart’s Bullseye moth

Scientific Name
Specie in
Family
Automeris godartii, female, Satipo, Peru – Adrian Hoskins
Automeris godartii, female, Satipo, Peru – Adrian Hoskins

Introduction

There are about 260 species in the genus Automeris. The forewings of most species are brownish, marked with dark lines; and usually have a dark blotch at the end of the discal cell. When they are at rest, with the hindwings concealed, they are convincing dead leaf mimics. Some species instead have greyish forewings mottled or marbled with darker tones, providing them with a very effective bark-like camouflage when they are at rest on tree trunks. The hindwings of most species feature large conspicuous false eyes, set against a yellowish or orange ground colour.

Habitats

This species was found in transitional cloudforest at an altitudes of about 900m.

Lifecycle

The larvae of most Automeris species are bright green, marked laterally with dashes or stripes of red ( or orange ) and white. Along the back and sides are rows of multi-branched stinging spines, each like a miniature Xmas tree. When young the larvae feed gregariously, but they gradually disperse and become solitary by the final instar.

Most Automeris species are polyphagous – e.g. the known foodplants of Automeris io include such unrelated pabula as Salix, Quercus, Hibiscus, Azalea, Prunus, Trifolium and Euterpe.

Adult behaviour

If the moths are disturbed they immediately drop to the ground and uncover their hindwings to reveal the startling eye-spots. At the same time they usually arch their abdomens, and twitch violently, thrusting the hindwings and their eye-spots forward in a series of rhythmical movements. The effect on humans is usually to recoil in shock. Birds probably react in a similar manner, and in many cases are so startled or scared that the moths escape being eaten.

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