Eisner T. 2003. After feeding briefly on foliage, the larvae move to the unripe pods which they bore into to feed on the seeds Upon reaching maturity, larvae migrate from the host plant to pupate in sheltered situations under loose bark on nearby trees, in thick vegetation, or in debris. Vuill. Today, the plant would control many Florida habitats if it weren’t for the tiny pinkish-red ornate bella moth keeping it at bay. Asters come in a close second on our list of native caterpillar food plants. The moths sequester these poisonous chemicals and thus become poisonous to predators. Also known as Moth Plant, Kapok Vine, Araujia Sericifera. It was Eisner who noticed the alkaloids that allow the bella moths to flourish are poisonous to some other bugs, including spiders. 2006). 1980, Jain et al. Credits: Don Hall, UF/IFAS Figure 9. Not self-fruitful. Host plants are believed to be limited to members of the Crotalaria (Rattlebox) family of plants, the larva stores the alkaloids it receives from these plants making it toxic to potential predators, a trait that carries over to the adult moth. Covell CV. Adults are concentrated in patches of Crotalaria. 2010, Tietz 1972), species in the genus Crotalaria (e.g., Figures 7 to 10) are without a doubt the major if not the only true hosts. Plants Database 2005. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the nectar produced by the flowers while birds and small mammals eat the fruit. Guimarães et al. Unpalatability of the pyrrolizidine alkaloid containing moth. Linnaeus (Linnei 1758) originally described two species in the genus Phalaena — ornatrix (more whitish or pale specimens) and bella (brightly colored specimens), and Hübner later moved them to the genus Utetheisa. Powell JA, Opler PA. 2009. 1981. Unlike most moths Bella are active during the day. “The moth has always fed on native species of Crotalaria,” said Sourakov, showing a drawer with hundreds of bella moth specimens that he reared in the lab. Adult ornate bella moths are rejected by the wolf spider Lycosa ceratiola Gertsch (Eisner & Eisner 1991, González et al. Hare JF, Eisner T. 1993. The bella moth measures less than 2 inches, but it is vibrantly colored and active during the day and night. Tietz, HM. The pupae are encased in a brown and black sac covered in a light coat of silk. 1991), the pyrrolizidine alkaloids did not protectornate bella moth eggs from infection by the entomopathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana (Bals. The additional nutrients allow the female to lay a larger number of eggs than would otherwise be possible. A year later, he noticed the seasonal plant had dwindled more than 90 percent. 1972. Photograph by Don Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. 1983. Moths of Western North America. Plant clippings and fallen leaves should be allowed to accumulate a little for safe hiding spots for moths … Polyandrous females provide sons with more competitive sperm: Support for the sexy-sperm hypothesis in the rattlebox moth (. (For chemical structures of Utetheisa ornatrix pheromones, see El-Sayed (2014). Upon hatching, the young larvae feed on the foliage. The female herself also gains additional protection from predators due to the additional alkaloids from the male spermatophores (González et al. In his lab experiments with these plant species, which Sourakov propagated from seeds with the help of volunteers, the moth’s biology was shown to vary depending on the species of rattlebox plant used as food. 538-542. Adult ornate bella moths live approximately three weeks and females mate on average four to five times and as many as 13 times — each time receiving additional nutrients and alkaloids as nuptial gifts via the spermatophores. and records that cite several unspecified species (Rosa spp.) Figure 10. 930348.00 – 8105 – Utetheisa ornatrix – Ornate Bella Moth – (Linnaeus, 1758) Photographs are the copyrighted property of each photographer listed. In the upland pine habitat behind the Florida Museum, Sourakov witnessed bella moths feeding on the exotic species C. lanceolata at the beginning of October two years in a row. The eggs are parasitized by the wasp Telenomus sp. 92: 50-55. Photograph by Lary Reeves, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. (In Latin). Bella Moth underwings. Getty Images/Kevin Dutton. Only four species of Crotalaria are native to the southeastern U.S. of which two occur in Florida — Avon Park rattlebox (Crotalaria avonensis DeLaney & Wunderlin), which is restricted to Florida, and rabbitbells (Crotalaria rotundifolia J.F. Many other species of Crotalaria were introduced into the southeastern U.S. 55-65 years ago for soil improvement and forage. This plant is a host of the ornate bella moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus). Because most of our common Crotalarias are introduced weedy species and toxic to cattle, the ornate bella moth plays a beneficial role by eating their seeds and suppressing their reproduction. Ornate Bella Moth . 39-40, pp. The biology of the ornate bella moth is intricately intertwined with its Crotalaria host plants. This plant is a host of the ornate bella moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus). The University of North Carolina Press. 1999) and Argiope florida Chamberlin & Ivie (Eisner et al. Contact … Need two plants to cross-pollinate. The bella moth was eating the plant's poisonous seeds, which help it produce chemical defenses that make the moths and their eggs unpalatable to would-be predators. Sex attractant of an arctiid moth (. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA. Figure 9. Butterlies get most of the attention with their bright colors and sun-loving ways, but a variety of beautiful moths can be supported as well. The Pherobase: Database of Insect Pheromones and Semiochemicals. Lanceleaf rattlebox, Crotalaria lanceolata E. Mey, in fruit. Today in Florida, these exotic species often grow on abandoned farmland that has transformed into forest. A native species of moth does a good job of keeping these plants under control, and provides a great research model for me and my students.”. A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America. You are what you eat: native versus exotic Crotalaria species (Fabaceae) as host plants of the Ornate Bella Moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Arctiinae) Journal of Natural History: Vol. The Rattlebox and the bella moth's biology are intricately intertwined. The ornate bella moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus), is one of our most beautiful moths (Figure 1). Adult moths live for about 4 days and do not feed. Learn more about the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera & Biodiversity at the Florida Museum. 1999). The male even shares some of the toxic chemical with the female during mating, which in turn makes her eggs taste disgusting to other insects. Since different plant species attract different butterflies, you need to choose the right host plants for the survival of caterpillars. Freshly emerged adult. Ithaca, New York. Chemical basis of pupal cannibalism in a caterpillar (. Photograph by Don Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. Smooth rattlebox, Crotalaria pallida Aiton var. Back to Family Page. Eisner T, Meinwald J. (2015). ), with flowers and fruit. Lepidopterist Andrei Sourakov with the Florida Museum of Natural History has been studying ornate bella moths, Utetheisa ornatrix, since 2010. In the laboratory, Utetheisa ornatrix male larvae developed faster and resulted in larger adults, when raised on Crotalaria incana vs. Crotalaria lanceolata (2 species native to Africa). Photograph by Don Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. It is also known as the spicebush silkmoth, which refers to is one of the promethea silkmoth's common host plants, spicebush (Lindera benzoin). The life cycle of the ornate Bella Moth is short.. only three weeks. Rossini C, Hoebeke ER, Iyengar VK, Conner WE, Eisner M, Eisner T. 2000. Photograph by Don Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. 10th Ed. This allows it to be witnessed more frequently than other moths, which are mostly modestly colored and nocturnal. Host plants for the moth’s caterpillars are both native (four species) and non-native (10 species) Crotalaria, known as rabbit bells, as well as rattlebox for the rattling sound of ripened seed pods. Postcopulatory sexual selection in an arctiid moth (, Linnei C. 1758. However, the native and exotic species have very different habitat preferences, and seasonal patterns of growth.”. His pioneering lab experiments involving bella moths revealed how insects use chemicals to attract mates as well as prey, and elude predators. Eisner T, Eisner M, Siegler M. 2005. Crotalaria plants (particularly the immature seeds) are laced with pyrrolizidine alkaloids. 369 pp. Eisner T, Eisner M. 1991. The caterpillars of Utetheisa ornatrix, the ornate bella moth, feed on host plants in the genus Crotalaria (Fabales: Fabaceae), which, in Florida, encompasses 4 native and 10 introduced species. Females measure the HD concentration of males and use that information for selecting males with the potential to donate the most pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the spermatophore (Conner et al. In the U.S., it is more common in the southern part of its range. Furthermore, females are able to control which sperm fertilize the eggs, and those from larger males are more likely to fertilize the eggs (Egan et al. The sweet smell of success. Meanwhile, in Cross Creek, the moths start flying as early as March, laying eggs on the early sprouts of the native C. rotundifolia. Adult ornate bella moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus). Lipsiae, sumptibus Guilielmi Engelmann, 1894. Figure 8. (2000) who reported an overall parasitism rate of 20% and suggested that pupal parasitism may be one of the chief causes of mortality in Utetheisa ornatrix: In laboratory studies (Storey et al. 1980. This plant is a host of the ornate bella moth, Utetheisa ornatrix (Linnaeus). Among them is Crotalaria spectabilis, showy rattlebox, which particularly stands out with its 6- to 8 feet-tall plants and beautiful yellow flowers. A moth friendly garden should be pesticide free. He discovered the culprit was the bella moth, which he observed eating seeds from pods that grow on the plant. Robinson GS, Ackery PR, Kitching IJ, Beccaloni GW, Hernández LM. Sourakov stumbled upon one of Florida’s 10 exotic species of rattlebox (there are four native species) in 2011 growing near the edge of a wooded area in northwest Gainesville. obovata (G. Don) Pohill (formerly Crotalaria mucronata Desv. This work is summarized in his book, For Love of Insects (Eisner 2003, Chapter 10). Males become active approximately 1 to 1½ hours after sunset and are attracted to females by a pulsed (Connor et al. Chapter 62. pp. Wunderlin RP, Hansen BF. Part IV. 1988), the green lacewing Ceraeochrysa cubana (Hagan) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) (Eisner et al. Host Plants for Butterflies and Moths Those who garden with native plants are aware that natives attract a remarkable number of pollinators. Parentally provided alkaloid does not protect eggs of. System Naturae. It is the same root word as used in the genus name for rattle snakes, Crotalus. Figure 4. 2010, Tietz 1972), species in the genus Crotalaria (e.g., Figures 7 to 10) are without a doubt the major if not the only true hosts. Why do larvae of, El-Sayed AM 2014. 1. It is also found through Mexico and southward through Central (Powell & Opler 2009) and South America all the way to Argentina (Pease 1968) and throughout most of the Antilles (North American Moth Photographers Group Undated). Photograph by Don Hall, Entomology and Nematology Department, University of Florida. The bella moth is one of the few insects that have evolved to use the Rattlebox as host due to the plants extreme toxicity (the plant is laced with pyrrolizidine alkaloids).
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