|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|From my archives, here is a contrast to my previous post- the subject is unusual rather than common, the basic identification is obvious at a glance, and I've given a straightforward description of what's shown. However, the aspect of challenging the viewer remains intact.|
Part of my reason for posting this is to request further identification by any moth-hounds out there. Kudos will go to anyone who can classify deeper than family level- I'm clueless on this one to the point of not knowing anything about insect ID keys or their use. But an even more fundamental question lurks here- what advantage do moths gain by having such huge antennae, when small and streamlined is good enough for most insects, including plenty of other Lepidoptera? I'd be glad to hear from any resident TN lepidopterists on this point.
This specimen was clinging to the vertical side of a granite sign one day when I was entering my lab, so I got my camera out and took some pictures. It was inactive and I wondered if it had just emerged. Body length was huge compared to most moths- probably about 3 cm.
The most interesting aspect to me was the antennae. Having spent my grad school years in a lab where another student was studying moth pheromone receptors, I'm fascinated by the structure of moth antennae, where those receptors are found. This set of antennae is certainly spectacular compared to the wimpy Heliothis virescens/zea my friend was working on, and more grandiose than any I've seen before or since.
The supermacro work here was good enough to show me something I had never seen about moth antennae- the pairing of the secondary branches and the filmy connection binding each pair together. You can see clearly, especially along the right edge, that branches are connected pairwise and that adjacent pairs have clear space between them. Sorry for not knowing the proper terminology- please provide it if you can. Likewise, if you know anything about the function of the stuff between the branches, please enlighten us.
It would be an interesting photographic study to get some specimens with massive antennae like this and apply some more powerful macro capability to them. A cursory search on the web turned up little info on moth antenna structure, but I know there must be something out there. I would be curious to see something that bridges the gulf between this level of detail and the SEM world of sensilla.
Tomorrow's post will be a side view of the same moth, for further help in identification.
tech notes- major cropping and rotation, supermacro shot with built-in flash, some darkening due to lens barrel shadow in foreground, partially corrected by dodging; serious shadow/highlight adjustment to improve detail, lots of brightness and contrast tweaking, two step sharpening, no color adjustment
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very interesting capture and the foreshortening of this insect. I like it.
TFS, best regards,
This is great!
I've seen some big moth antennae but this one tops them all.
I wonder,are they really necessary.I guess they must have evolved for something,but really!
They must be retractable or fold up or something,otherwise the wind resistance would be a real drag (pun intended).
Cheers & TFS
Bob, who would have known you are a categorical scientist? Your descriptions are so vague and seemingly uninteresting. (Big smile on that comment!) Wonderful photo, Bob, seriously. Wish I could help you on the description, but all I can do is to evaluate the photos you post. This one--Great! That's all I can say, which is certainly much less than what you say. :o)
JoeGoff, Louisville, KY
Odd, an interesting bug.
The gorgeous photo.
- [2009-05-08 16:04]
ha ha. very interesting image
- [2009-07-11 11:36]
I just "found" your note to me from a while back.
I agree with you that our ultrazooms make great cameras. : )
I love the POV on this moth-of-the-gigantic-antennae.
Very impressive set of feelers.
Did you ever find out why they are so big?
My familiarity with moths is limited to the silkworm moth because we raise silkworms every year in my third grade class. : )
Silkworm Life Cycle