Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In Search of the Elusive Behavior of the Erre Silk Moth in the Great Himalayan National Park
Nature keeps on demystifying itself with some unique images captured by intrepid explores like Panki Sood in the Great Himalayan National Park. The park located in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh is one of the last remaining bastions of unique flora and fauna in the Western Himalayas & in the final stages of being declared as a World Heritage Site. The above picture was shot in the buffer zone of the national park in a untouched valley called Tirthan.
As Panki Sood who is known for his nocturnal escapades to click wildlife was on the move he noticed this unique phenomenon of a Erre Silk Moth guzzling water and shooting it out from the rear. The phenomena photographed with beautiful precision gave birth to a discussion within experts who had also bred this moth for commercial purposes as it has been never seen before. Since Saturniidae do not have functioning mouth parts (i.e. no or vestigial haustellum), so this individual can't be drinking water. That begs the question "what the ..... is it doing?" One of the theories was that, it may have been a freshly emerged moth which, after expanding its wings, was ejecting excess liquid. A suggestion was given to breed them, (they are very easy to breed), and then conduct this experiment, with several specimens, it would be better, since the assumptions above, that it is actually drinking and venting liquid, if proved, will change the way we look at the lack or reduction of mouthparts in moths.
All butterflies and moths have body fluids when they emerge, which is used to pump into the hollow "veins" of the wings, thus allowing them to expand. During this process, the insect often vents fluid from the rear end of the abdomen, albeit not as a spray as captured in Panki’s photo, but a few drops...Hence another hidden facet of nature was revealed high up in the Himalayas.