[Taxacom] Paper on rearing ghost moths on mushrooms and live plant hosts

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Fri Mar 6 07:10:03 CST 2020

A paper not directly about taxonomy but may be of interest to any on this
list involved with the evolution of insect-plant relationships. A copy can
be provided off list. This is about the vicarious duality of larval feeding
in ghost moths where early instars have a fungal based diet and older
larvae feed on live plant hosts, in this case as callus feeding stem
borers. Sort of confounds conventional theories about the evolutionary
origins of host-plant relationships in Lepidoptera - at least seems to me.

John Grehan

  New rearing method, life cycle, tunneling behavior and ecological notes
on the splendid ghost moth Aenetus djernaesae Simonsen, 2018 from Western
Australia (Lepidoptera: Hepialidae) Paul Kay , Paul M. Hutchinson & John R.

  Abstract This study successfully documents, for the first time, the
entire life cycle of Aenetus djernaesae Simonsen, 2018 and confirms the
efficacy of using supplemental sources of fungi to feed the early instar
larvae. Fresh cut pieces of the commercial mushroom Agaricus bisporus (J.E.
Lange) and sections of Eucalyptus L’Her. bark were placed around the base
of potted host plants –Myoporum insulare R.Br. (Scrophulariaceae) and the
potential host plant Dodonea hackettiana W.Fitz. (Sapindaceae). First
instar larvae were added to this matrix where they fed on the mushroom and
bark. The life cycle comprised egg development of 20 days, fungal feeding
of ~36 days, and host plant development (including pupal) of ~300 days.
Adult emergence of reared and field collected samples occurred within a 22
day period. Larvae transferring from fungi to host plants transitioned
during the night by constructing a web of silk and plant tissues within two
hours and proceeding to excavate a tunnel from within. The mature larval
tunnel is relatively short, up to 220 mm in length and usually extending
below the entrance around which the larvae grazes on callus tissue forming
after bark removal. Most adults emerged within an hour of dusk with the
pupa protruding from the top of the vestibule. The rearing method described
here demonstrates the feasibility of laboratory based studies of larval
development in Aenetus Herrrich-Schäffer and other callus-feeding stem
boring Hepialidae.

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