Here is a story about a rather desperate moth.

I have a number of female moths in the lab which I am hoping to get eggs out of. As I checked them today, I realized one of my Acronicta americana was actually a male. Not sure what to do with him, I put him on my friend’s shirt to hang out a while before being released.

Back in my office a few minutes later, I heard a yelp from the lab. I walked over to see the moth climbing on my friend’s beard, probing him with its proboscis. Then it went straight for his mouth!

Moths and butterflies have a behavior called “puddling”. Males (some females do this as well) will suck up liquids to gain nutrients such as sodium. Butterflies and moths can be observed puddling around puddles, ponds, mud, dung, damp concrete… and apparently, some are also attracted to saliva. Males are the usual suspects because they will offer these extra nutrients to females as a sort of nuptial gift along with their spermatophore during mating.

This moth was fed sugar water while in his enclosure, but apparently the allure of sweat and saliva were too much to resist.

Here is a video, to show just how excited this moth was:
I wonder if other moth species would lap up human saliva so eagerly? I am not sure anyone in the lab is going to jump up and volunteer for that study.

Posted on June 26, 2012, in Acronicta, Acronictinae, Invertebrates, Lepidoptera, Noctuidae. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Wow! And to think my husband only brought my chocolates when we were courting.

  2. An environmentally friendly solution for flossing? 😀

  3. Your friend might be relieved that the Acronicta didn’t opt to puddle using lachryphagy:


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Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.

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