Uncovering another lichen moth: Eudesmia aymara from Bolivia

Resumen (español): Después de estudiar la literatura sobre varios géneros de polillas de líquenes, descubrí una observación de Eudesmia aymara, una especie local y aparentemente poco común del centro de Bolivia. La observación fue realizada por @eldirko en enero de 2021. [En la taxonomía de iNat, esta especie solía ser incluida en el género Vianania. Posteriormente Bendib & Monet (1999) colocaron Vianania como sinónimo de Eudesmia.]

This is kind of fun! I’ve spent many days recently delving into the literature on the lichen moths of the genus Eudesmia and related genera such as Vianania, etc. This can be pretty tedious, but I really enjoy little discoveries along the way. Well, today I made a big “discovery” in this group of moths.

Eudesmia aymara was described originally in the genus Vianania by Ricardo N. Orfila in 1953 from a few specimens collected in Bolivia. The original description (of both the new genus and species) is in the Spanish-language journal, Physis, the official bulletin of the Argentine Association of Natural Sciences (Asociación Argentina de Ciencias Naturales). Hernan M. Beccacece of the National University of Córdoba (Argentina) was kind enough to send me a pdf of the original paper by Orfila. Almost simultaneously in my literature review, I came across a listing of “Type material of Arctiinae…in the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales” (Rodriguez-Ramirez et al. 2020. Zootaxa 4742) which included photographs of the holotype specimen of Vianania aymara. [Incidentally, although Orfila does not explain the name, “aymara” refers to a population of indigenous people of Bolivia and their language.] As I read through Orfila’s description and looked at the photos in the other paper, I once again came to the conclusion that it ought to be recognizable in field photos. However, as of earlier today (11/26/2022), there were no observations of any Vianania or Eudesmia moths on iNaturalist from Bolivia, despite there being at least two and maybe three species occurring in the country.

So I began a search through tiger and lichen moths (Arctiinae) from Bolivia, which numbered some 1,500 observations. Several pages into this set of observations, I suddenly came across this observation by Dirk Dekker (@eldirko), made in the Sucre municipality, Chiquisaca Dept., Bolivia, in January 2021:
Eudesmia aymara, Bolivia, Dirk Dekker (iNat)
It is a perfect match to Orfila’s description and the illustration of the holotype specimen (which I can’t link to because of copyright restrictions). I finished going through the rest of the Arctiids in Bolivia and found no other examples. So Dirk’s image is the first photo of a living example of the species, and to date, the only one.

The species is recognized by the combination of marks I mention in Dirk’s observation, above, namely:
-- orange collar
-- black thorax and abdomen
-- pale yellow median band on the forewings consisting of 4 separate spots (innermost reduced to a dot)
-- two yellow subterminal patches on forewings
-- hindwing broadly yellow at base, with black terminal band
From Orfila’s specimens and Dirk Dekker’s image, the species has only been documented in two locations in mountainous central Bolivia. It makes me wonder what other unrecognized discoveries are hidden among unidentified observations on iNaturalist!

DRAFT map of the distribution of five species of Eudesmia in southern South America. Data are from iNaturalist observations as of 8 December 2022 plus a few earlier records from the literature.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Dirk Dekker (@eldirko) for uploading this important observation! I also thank Hernan M. Beccacece (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, @hernan24) and Juan López-Gappa (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia) for providing difficult-to-locate references. Jose Balderrama (@jose_balderrama) helped with Bolivian placenames. Lucas Rubio (@lrubio7) helped update the taxonomy on iNaturalist.org. Tony Iwane (@tiwane) helped me trouble-shoot the syntax for this post.

Publicado por gcwarbler gcwarbler, 27 de noviembre de 2022


Thank you very much Chuck, i am learning a lot here! I added another photo to my observation I 've found from the same day and place.. Feel free to use it.

Publicado por eldirko hace 2 meses (Marca)

@eldirko Dirk, do you recall if the moth was alive at the time? It looks a bit disheveled.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace 2 meses (Marca)

I agree it looks a bit disheveled, but as far as I recall it was alive, I normally don't take photo's of dead specimens other then mammals and reptiles. My wife was with me and she confirms. It was a day extremely full of moths and butterflies at that same spot. I will go and check again around the same date in 2023 in the middle of the rainy season.

Publicado por eldirko hace 2 meses (Marca)

UPDATE (12/20/22): Added a draft map of the distribution of the five southern South American species of Eudesmia/Vianania.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace alrededor de 1 mes (Marca)

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