Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologist Discovers Pink-winged Moth In Chiracahua Mountains

Date:
June 12, 2009
Source:
University of Arizona
Summary:
Biologists have discovered a new species of moth. The moth has distinct bright pink wings, which prompted Walsh to name it after his wife.

Lithophane leeae.
Credit: Bruce Walsh

University of Arizona biologist Bruce Walsh has identified a new species of moth in southern Arizona. Normally, this is not a big deal. The region is one of the most biologically rich areas in the country and collectors have been finding hundreds of new species for decades. This one, however, is different.

Walsh is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute. He is best known in the science community as an authority on plant and animal breeding, having written one of the leading textbooks on the subject.

His work also spans several departments and programs, including statistics, applied math, insect science and genetics. He also teaching biostatistics in the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and has worked with trial attorneys on interpreting DNA evidence. Collecting moths is a hobby.

His new discovery is Lithophane leeae. Walsh found it in the Chiracahua mountains east of Tucson, and reported it in the journal Zoo Keys.

Lithophane moths are members of the noctuid family, which often are dull colored. Walsh's moth, in contrast, is bright pink. He also named it after his wife, Lee, who has an affinity for the color.

Walsh discovered L. leeae while collecting one evening at Onion Saddle, at about 7,700 feet in the Chiracahuas. Collecting involves illuminating a sheet with mercury vapor lamps. Moths are attracted by the lights and will land on the sheet.

"This large moth flew in and we didn't think much of it because there is a silk moth very much like it, a Doris silk moth that feeds on pines that has dark wings with pink on the hind wings. It's fairly common there."

On closer inspection, though, the moth, a female, appeared to be an entirely different species from an entirely different family. Walsh said it currently is the only known individual.

Scientists are generally reluctant to identify a new species based on one individual, but L. leeae appears so distinct from others that Walsh said it is highly unlikely that it is an aberration of an existing species. A DNA barcode later confirmed it as a distinct species.

Walsh said he is confident there are bound to be more. "If this thing is flying at the top of the Chiracahuas, it's probably pretty common," he said.

Finding it is another matter because moths like Lithophane tend to over-winter at higher elevations, hibernating when there is snow on the ground and flying off at the first signs of spring. Walsh said bats are the primary predators of moths, and so if the insects can make it through the winter, when bats hibernate, they will likely do well as the weather gets warmer.

As to why L. leeae hasn't been found before, Walsh theorized that his specimen simply emerged late from hibernation when it was caught. Another theory is that it could be a stray from another mountain range in the region. He said there are a number of species that fly early in the summer and are rare in collections and not often seen in most years.

"We can now add L. leeae to this group of large, but quite elusive, species," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Arizona. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Arizona. "Biologist Discovers Pink-winged Moth In Chiracahua Mountains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220823.htm>.
University of Arizona. (2009, June 12). Biologist Discovers Pink-winged Moth In Chiracahua Mountains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220823.htm
University of Arizona. "Biologist Discovers Pink-winged Moth In Chiracahua Mountains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090609220823.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

Raw: Kangaroo Rescued from Swimming Pool

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A kangaroo was saved from drowning in a backyard suburban swimming pool in Australia's Victoria state on Thursday. Australian broadcaster Channel 7 showed footage of the kangaroo struggling to get out of the pool. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins