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Tiny minotaurs and mini-Casanovas: Ancient pigmy moths reveal secrets of their diversity
Date:3/18/2013

>Pectinivalva feed on Eucalyptus and its close relatives, with just a few still attached to rainforest myrtles. Probably, the rainforests of Indonesia, New Guinea and New Caledonia will be found to be home to further undiscovered members of the genus Pectinivalva; a new species (P. xenadelpha) from Borneo is the first non-Australian member of the genus known.

What of those new names? The males of many species of ancient pigmy moths display special scales for close-range scent dispersal during courtship of the female. These can be on the front legs, on the wings or on the body of the moth, and may form moustache-like tufts or groups like overlapping shells, best seen under high magnification. Some species have a strange pocket-like structure on the hind wing with scent scales surrounding it in a palisade. In one group of metallic-coloured species, the males are particularly well equipped for courtship with a variety of sex-specific modifications. This group has been named as a subgenus Casanovula after Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798), the Italian adventurer famous for his many romantic entanglements. The male of the most spectacular species not only has two different kinds of shell-like scent scales on the body, but huge flattened and expanded antennae, whose function is unknown, but which are also presumed to be attractive to females. This species has been named Pectinivalva (Casanovula) minotaurus, after the bull-headed Cretan beast of Greek mythology.


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Contact: Dr. Robert Hoare
hoarer@landcareresearch.co.nz
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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