Lygodium Spider Moth

In 2005, a new species of moth, Siamusotima aranea, also known as the Lygodium Spider Moth was discovered in Thailand.

The pictures explain the common name.

The Lygodium Spider Moth is a perfect example of mimicry,  or an animal that has evolved to imitate another in some way.  In addition to the spider-like imagery of the adult, the larval stage is beetle-like in both looks and the presence of armoured segments that have not been seen in moths before.

The moth was discovered in the search to find biological controls for the invasive species Lygodium microphyllum and Lygodium japonicum. These climbing ferns, native to tropical regions around the world were introduced to the US in the early part of the 20th century and are now considered to cause serious economic and ecological damage.

Some Lygodium species are now considered a very problematic invasive weeds in the southeastern United States. Populations of Lygodium have increased more than 12-fold over the past decade… Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum) was added to the Florida Noxious Weed List in 1999. It is also a major problem in pine plantations, causing contamination and harvesting problems for the pine straw industry. Old World climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) infests cypress swamps and other hydric sites, forming a monoculture. This massive infestation displaces all native flora and fauna, completely changing the ecosystem of the area.

Lygodium japonicum covering native trees. source: Wikipedia

As an aside on the Lydodium sp of ferns, they are believed by vitalistic healers to be useful for:

  • antifertility,
  • wound healing,
  • eczema,
  • hepatoprotection,
  • massage,
  • dysmennorrhea,
  • jaundice,
  • sprains,
  • rheumatism, and of course,
  • treating cancer.

It’s hard to believe that a plant with such magical properties would require the importation of such an exotic creature for control.

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