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Rare Siberian Tiger Moth Larva Recorded Feeding for First Time on Native Host Plant

The Menetries’s tiger moth (Borearctia menetriesii) is the most rare and enigmatic representative among the Palearctic Arctiinae. Only single specimens have been found in most known localities, and sometimes the records are separated from each other by many decades. For example, there are only four records of it in Finland from 1913 and 1943, and it was not observed there at all between 1943 and 2003.

Only four people in the world have been able to catch it twice: Alexey Kurentzov (in 1951 and 1955), Yury Korshunov (in 1964 and 1966) and Andrey Sviridov & Vladimir Murzin (in 1977 and 1979).

However, Russian scientists recently encountered it in Eastern Siberia, and were able to record a larva feeding on a host plant (Aconitum rubicundum) for the first time. Their study was published in the journal Nota Lepidopterologica.

“Our record confirms that B. menetriesii is a polyphagous species like most other boreal Arctiinae,” the authors wrote. “We have expanded the list of a few Lepidoptera species which can use Aconitum spp. as suitable host plants despite the fact that they are poisonous for insects because of high alkaloid content.”

The last instar of Borearctia menetriesii on the red aconite in Eastern Siberia. Photo by Dr. Oleg Berlov.

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Record of Borearctia menetriesii (Eversmann, 1846) (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Arctiinae) larva on Aconitum rubicundum Fischer (Ranunculaceae) in Eastern Siberia

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