Cutest Thing on Six Legs
After all the excitement (or not) over flying spiders, time to revisit another “crazy insect” story from last year. The Venezuelan Poodle Moth went viral in 2012 amid a frenzy of general OMG/LOL-ness when this photo below started doing the rounds. The moth was first spotted in 2009 by Arthur Anker (Federal University of Ceara, Brazil) while working in Canaima National Park in Venezuela, but seems to have taken a few years to break out of an otherwise obscure Tumblr feed.
Other than the photo, no further details have been published and no subsequent sightings are known to have been made. However, it is believed to be a genuine photo of a genuine moth, not least because it bears some similarities to several known species such as the muslin moth (Diaphora mendica). And, as we’ve pointed out before on insecthouse, the number of insect species yet to be discovered and described is likely to be vastly greater than those so far known to science.
Based on the photo, entomologist Dr John Rawlins (Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh) has suggested that the poodle moth might be a member of the Lasiocampidae family of moths (the “eggars” or “snout moths”). He even hazards a guess at it being in Artace or a related genus (of which there are already perhaps a dozen described species in South America) but notes that the entire Artace group is in need of a comprehensive academic revision, certainly for species anywhere south of the USA. And of course, what is really needed is a genuine example to stand as the “type specimen” of the species.
In the meantime, all Dr Rawlins is prepared to say for sure is “Yes…it’s cute.” We agree with the good doctor on that so altogether now one, two, three awwwww…