By Pritha Dey, expert moth-er

1. Prometopidia joshimathensis

Prometopidia joshimathensis. Image: Pritha Dey

This drab-colored Geometrid moth was discovered in a semi-urban forest fragment, in the busy tourist town of Joshimath in the western Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India. Dr Pritha Dey along with Dr Axel Hausmann and Dr Dieter Stuning of Germany, published it as a new species to science in 2021! The area where it was discovered was hit by a massive flood early this year due to a glacier breaking up.

This rather unremarkable-looking moth can bring important attention to Himalayan ecosystems, which are becoming fragile due to climate change and human activities. Our finding of this new moth species highlights that even forest patches in fragmented landscapes can contain untapped biodiversity.

2. Achelura bifasciata

Achelura bifasciata. Image: Sanjay Sondhi

This rare day-flying moth of the Zygaenidae family was spotted for the first time in 125 years when it had a mass emergence (where many moths appear at once). These moths are toxic to predators and thus can fly freely during the day. Thousands of them were spotted last year in a quaint Himalayan village by a local nature enthusiast, during the countrywide lockdown due to Coronavirus.

3. Carriola ecnomoda

Carriola ecnomoda. Image: Sanjay Sondhi

Most moths have opaque wings, but some species have evolved partial or fully transparent wings, like this Erebid moth. Transparent wings act as camouflage and make the moths hidden in plain sight. Many insects have transparent wings, but some species of moths and butterflies are unique in having scales on their wings. The structure of these scales could act as a defence or be used for communication.

4. Theretra nessus: yam hawk moth

Theretra nessus. Image: Pritha Dey

This is a common Sphingidae (hawk moth) species found in Southeast Asia. Hawk moths are powerful navigators and good pollinators. This hawk moth species is also known to produce ultrasonic anti-bat sounds as a defence strategy, engaging in the acoustic (sound-based) battle going on above our heads each night, which is an evolutionary marvel.

5. Polytela gloriosae: lily moth

Polytela gloriosae. Image: Balakrishnan Valappil, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lily moth is a stunningly colourful day-flying moth species of the family Noctuidae, which is also quite common in urban landscapes in India. It has a very interesting life cycle. It thrives on garden lily plant varieties and pupates under the soil. In India you can observe this fantastic moth right in your backyard!

More moth resources!

Moth stories and activities on Mongabay Kids

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