Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Spot the Moth

Six Spotted Burnet, Zygaena filipendulae
One of the most attractive moths to be seen in Ireland, the Six Spotted Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) is currently on the wing. Flying during the day, this moth has a lazy, almost awkward pattern of flying. The adult wings are a dark, metallic green and spotted with the most delightful deep-red spots, six on each forewing. These six spots distinguish it from its close relative the Narrow Bordered Five Spotted Burnet (Z. lonicerae). The adults feed on flowers of knapweed and scabious plants, with the larvae feeding on birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). The larvae derive a level of protection from their host plant, sequestering the cyanogenic glucosides linamarin and lotaustralin (1). These act as defence compounds against preadtors. These cyanogenic glucosides are integral to Z. filipendulae's life cycle and larvae fed wildtype L. corniculatus  showed faster development times than those fed transgenic, acyanogenic plants. Larvae are also capable of de novo synthesis of the cyanogenic glucosides and adult male Z. filipendulae transfer a nuptial gift of the compunds to females during mating, with females showing a preference for males with higher cyanogenic glucosides levels (2).
Six Spotted Burnet, Zygaena filipendulae feeding on Knapweed

  1. Zagrobelny et al., 2007. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 37 pp. 10–18
  2. Zagrobelny et al., 2007. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 37 pp. 1189–1197

1 comment:

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