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Binomial name: Pseudautomeris arminirene (Strand, 1920)
Common name: N/A
Geographical range: Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Older literature references may include variations that could be their own (sub)species nowadays, but this is up to debate (irene / arminerene, arminijunensis, etc.). Pseudautomeris arminirene is considered a true species by some, and just a subspecies of Pseudautomeris irene (P. irene arminirene) by others.
Host plants: Quite polyphagous; Rubus sp. (bramble/raspberry) , Coffea (coffee), Salix sp. (willow), Malus sp. (apple), Prunus sp. (cherries), Ligustrum sp. (privet), Wisteria, Saccharum sp. (sugarcane), Robinia pseudacacia (false acacia), Passiflora sp. were recorded. Seems to feed on many types of Fabaceae (legumes) and Rosaceae (rose family) in particular.
Habitat: Rainforest / cloudforest transition zone and forest edges. Found in habitats near the equator, at such an elevation (Peru, 1500m) that they have the same climate all year long, with a daily maximum of 18 to 20 degrees Celcius. Was also found in lower elevations around 300m-600m, where it is hotter. This species seems to be able to cope with ‘colder’ temperatures despite being a tropical species, so they can survive at higher elevations. Pseudautomeris generally seem to cope with urbanisation and agricultural areas, since some of their Fabaceae host plants survive in disturbed terrain and are associated with agricultural landscapes.
Wingspan: 60mm-110mm (Females bigger than males)
Flight time: Has 4 to 2 generations per year depending on the local climate, temperature/elevation (local temperature is heavily affected by the elevation in their range; higher elevation populations most likely adapt to the cold environment); records may suggest a peak in October, Februari and July, but this is very unclear to me.
Ecology: Females are more apathic and wait for the males to arrive first, calling them in with phermonones. After pairing, the female becomes more active and deposits 50 to 200 pale white eggs with, if fertile, a black micropyle. The moths are noctural. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch and the hatchings gather in small groups. Together they roam the vegetation and feed on several types of plants. While the young caterpillars are social the more mature larvae become rather solitary. The caterpillars are armed with toxic spines that upon skin contact may influct a minor venomous sting. Mature larvae spin cocoon and adults hatch in a few months time. The caterpillars seem to be polyphagous on a select few plant families such as Fabaceae and Rosaceae. This species is found in forest edges and transition zones of rain/cloudforests.
Description adult: Male with salmon pink hindwings, female with light brown hindwings. Each hindwing decorated with a round ocellus and scalloped blue margin. With the wings closed, the adult is quite well camouflaged and resembles a leaf. When molested they spread their wings and reveal the eyespots.
Description larvae: Pale white, with some minimal black markings and with black thoracical, elongated rear-end setae. Yellow/whiteish head capsule.The body contains many other branched spines.
Diapausal state: N/A (possibly continuously brooded); although pupae may or may not synchronise themselves with the dry/wet seasons.
Similar species: Pseudautomeris irene looks extremely similar and was once (and still is) considered to be the same species as arminirene (arminirene being a subspecies). However, P. irene has a different geographical distribution. Other Pseudautomeris species can also look very similar; and to the untrained eye, Automeris and Leucanella too.
Dimorphism: Female bigger than male and with brown hindwings; males smaller than females and with bright pink hindwings.
Health information: Caterpillars have venomous spines; they are not considered dangerous but may hurt.
Fun fact: It is easily reproduced in captivity on a wide variety of plants.
Other media: Video available (click here)
Photography: All specimens photographed here were part of a captive breeding experiment in the Netherlands (Europe) and are live specimens. Although captive livestock does not look very different from wild animals, they are not wholly representative of wild animals since captive livestock is prone to exhibiting unnatural variations and sizes. I am a moth breeder from the Netherlands that has bred hundreds of species. This website only features the imagoes of Lepidoptera I photographed and not the early life stages.
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