Day Flying Moths

Posted by Beth Watson on

Day Flying Moths

A surprising number of moth species are active by day and are often as brightly colored and beautifully patterned as butterflies. Here are a couple of the most well known:

Chrysiridia rhipheus, also known as the Madagascan Sunset Moth, is a day-flying moth of the family Uraniidae. It is considered one of the most impressive and appealing-looking lepidopterans. Famous worldwide, it is featured in most coffee table books on Lepidoptera and is much sought after by collectors, though many older sources misspell the species name as "ripheus". It is very colorful, though the iridescent parts of the wings do not have pigment; rather the colors originate from optical interference. 

At first this moth was thought to be from China or Bengal, but was later found to be native to Madagascar. 

The Madagascan sunset moth was first described from a specimen obtained in 1773. Because of its resemblance to swallowtail butterflies, it was mistakenly categorized as Papilio rhipheus.

Native Malagasy people call it adriandolo or lolonandriana, from lolo for "spirit" or "butterfly" and andriana for "noble" or "king", therefore meaning "noble butterfly", "noble spirit",  "king butterfly" or "king spirit".

It is collected in the wild, and raised commercially for the international butterfly trade; its wings were used to make jewelry in the Victorian era.

Urania leilus, also known as the Green-Banded Urania, is found in tropical South America east of the Andes, including Suriname, French Guiana, eastern Colombia, Venezuela, eastern Ecuador, Brazil, northern Bolivia, eastern Peru, and Trinidad.

This day flying moth is commonly seen along rainforest riverbanks. And is often confused for for butterfly species due to its coloration and its presence when the sun is up.

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