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Moths of the Amazon and Andes
Cramer's False Bullseye
Molippa rivulosa CRAMER, 1777
Superfamily - BOMBYCOIDEA
Family - SATURNIIDAE
subfamily - HEMILEUCINAE
Tribe -
Molippa rivulosa simillima, Satipo, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
There are about 600 species in the subfamily Hemileucinae. In most species the forewings are some shade of brown. In many genera including Automeris and Leucanella they are marked with a 'midrib' and small blotches that simulate spots of leaf mould, but in Molippa the markings simulate tree bark. The hindwings in the majority of Hemileucinae are adorned with ocelli. In Molippa and some other genera they are quite obscure, but in Leucanella and Automeris the ocelli are highly conspicuous and undoubtedly function to warn off or scare potential predators.
There are 22 species in the genus Molippa.
Molippa rivulosa is found in Guyana, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
Habitats
This species is found in rainforest and cloudforest at elevations between about 200-1000m.
Lifecycle
The eggs are glossy, spherical and whitish. They are laid in clusters of between about 30-80 on the stems of the foodplant Acacia ( Fabaceae ). The larvae live gregariously in the early instars but split into smaller groups as they grow older, and become solitary in the final instar. When fully grown the upper half of the body is heavily marked with a lattice of bright green spots which almost completely obscures the underlying black ground colour. The prolegs and true legs are all dark red. The pupa is formed within a brown silk cocoon, spun on the foodplant.
Adult behaviour

During daylight hours the adults rest on tree trunks or branches. If a moth is molested it instantly drops to the ground. It raises its wings above its back and falls onto its side, so that the dull cryptic undersides of the wings are exposed, and effectively disappear among the leaf litter. At the same time the moth exposes its furry orange abdomen and coils it tightly to reveal the shiny black cuticle between the segments. The overall effect is to transform its appearance from a harmless moth into that of a large orange and black centipede. Centipedes in the tropics are generally aggressive and dangerous to touch, so the disguise probably deters attacks from birds and other small predators.

 

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