WHY THE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID OF THIS INSECT?
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works
The famous German thinker and writer was so right about the ignorance. There is nothing worse and nothing more harmful as the illusion of knowledge, the tragedy of accepting being opinionated and manipulated. The rise of tabloid information and the success of primitive and backward appetite for reading cheap reporting about expensive things is a typical sign of regressed humankind intelligence. When the wise people speak out, the mass does not believe them and seeks for something it can digest, feed the lucrative demons within and forget. The ignorance today is a matter of choice, the life style and the excuse for the world to keep destroying itself.
The high level of global trend in spreading misinformation is not only visible in hot political issues but also in areas that could be considered as strictly scientific. Unfortunately, the science is not as loud as the vox populi’s stupidity in sharing lies instead of facts and gossip instead of analyzing. The last example of world’s brainwashed opinion could be seen through the lunatic theories about the case of alien-like insect, that has been filmed in Indonesia and posted on social media as the warning for coming ecological Armageddon. After the footage has been visible to the online spectators, the majority of people took a part in discussion and came out with the different ideas what the mysterious creature could be. It is just amazing to see how ordinary minds produce the things that usually go in the field of brilliant science fiction. Nevertheless, the monster insect that has six legs, two antennae, four furry appendages is not a bug from space or from hell that will eat us up. That is a special kind of moth, defined as Creatonotos gangis moth.
Gary Hevel, a researcher with the department of entomology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History explained that the small creature is harmless and that uses furry tentacles to attract a mate:” The adult moth of this species has brown forewings, each with a broken dark streak. The hindwings are white. The abdomen is red or sometimes yellow. The males have four reversible coremata at the tip of the abdomen, which emit pheromones; each when inflated is longer than the abdomen. The moths have a wingspan of about 4 cms” They are mostly located in Southeast Asia and in northern parts of Australia. They make nuisance in pomegranate trees and they feed themselves on plants that produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids. The plants are producing them only when they are attacked and damaged. These alkaloids could cause poisoning of farm animals too but when it comes to the hairy moths, they feed on PA and they can only grow and mate if they have consumed enough of toxic alkaloids. It is fascinating that these toxins make other creatures sick but turn the coremata or hairy tentacles of this moth into the beautiful sign of sexual maturity, able to produce the pheromone hydroxydanaidal and to attract the right mates in the right times.
There is no doubt that these hairy moths look like dangerous alien parasites that are ready to jump on you and infiltrate in your brain, shaping you as the host they will use for their own multiplication. They do not have a typical caterpillar look and that is the only reason why people see them bigger as they really are, frightful and ugly. The real fact is that those moths are actually beautiful just the way they are. First, they have unique and remarkable tentacles that are combined with its cute, little body and vibrant colors. Second, their organic structure is created to exist and to grow up on the consumption of substances that have toxic elements. There are not many living creatures capable to feed themselves on malign alkaloids. The Mother Nature has made a perfect balance with those furry moths, giving them a precious ability to form their beauty on the poisonous components. Their sexual perfection depends on processing of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. If they manage to accumulate enough of them, they will get the attractive coremata and those hair pencils will emit strong mating signals and will be genetically transferred into the new generation.
Belonging to the Eribidae family of moths, the Creatonotos gangis moth looks like other moths most of the time but in the season of mating, it is showing the marvelous transformation and seems like a forgotten alien among earthlings.
The explosion of media interest for this creature after the Facebook has earned thousands of shares of the Indonesian video, brought so many wrong information and encouraging of people’s ignorance. Instead of offering the accurate explanations, those so-called journalists even did not make an effort to consult an expert for insects but to scream out that we have alien parasites among us. I can understand that the whole globe is in love with bizarre things. I can still not understand that the writing ethic and professionalism are failed in our modern times and that many earn their cheap credit on accusing poor creatures to be an alien sinister invasion.
This outstanding insect is a living proof that beauty is in eye of beholder and that people are not here to judge and to give standards for what is beautiful or what is ugly. Every single creature has its own value and extraordinary importance for the colorful diversity of the Blue Planet. We have to learn to cohabit with all other living beings and to respect their habitats as our own. There is no need for portraying of fauna and flora through the irrational photos and brainless comments. There is an urgent need for protecting the endangered beauty of Earth, the development of understanding for all creatures and their right to share this world with us.
The furry moths are not monsters or aliens, they are remarkable and unforgettable as everything that has a rare beauty. Leave them alone.
4 thoughts on “CREATONOTOS GANGIS MOTH: THE CREATURE OF ALIEN BEAUTY”
What a remarkable article, Sarah ! I always learn so much from your articles ! How amazing that the Creatonotos Gangis Moth lives on toxins !
As you said, there seems to be a misconception about Animals in general, and Insects in particular ! This reminds me of your article about “Arachnophobia”, as so many people are afraid of spiders.
As you might recall, Sarah, I commented on that article explaining that a lot of it has to do with how children are raised and the reaction of their parents when they see a spider. The same holds true for the Creatonotos Gangis Moth !
Parents need to teach their children as of a very young age to respect and live all Animals ! There is no need to harm them because of their looks !
What a beautifully written article, Sarah ! It sure make me wish I were an entomologist !
Thank you !
Sarah’s elucidating and excellent article reminded me of the treatise entitled ‘Centuria Insectorum’ (1763), by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778 – Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician): Creatonotos gangis (the species of arctiine moth) is mentioned in the scientific treatise. It was Carl Linnaeus who formalised the modern system of naming organisms called ‘binomial nomenclature’.
Centuria Insectorum (Late-Latin for ‘One hundred insects’) is a taxonomic work that includes descriptions of 102 new insect and crustacean species that had been sent to Carl Linnaeus from British North America, Suriname, Java and other regions. Most of the neoteric appellations included in Centuria Insectorum are still in use; although, a few have been drawn into synonymy, and one was the result of a hoax: a common brimstone butterfly with spots painted on was described as the ‘new species’ Papilio ecclipsis.
The 102 species described in Centuria Insectorum were divided into seven sections; broadly corresponding with modern insect orders. Most of the names introduced in Centuria Insectorum are still in use, albeit in different genera; in a few cases, it is not clear what creature the name refers to.
The specimens used by Carl Linnaeus in writing Centuria Insectorum include some provided by Dr Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a horticulturist from Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina, by Carl Gustav Dahlberg in Suriname, by Hans Johan Nordgren in Java, and from the collection of Baron Charles De Geer (1720-1778) from the Province of Pennsylvania.
Alexander Garden collected and studied flora and fauna and parcelled them up to send to John Ellis, a merchant and zoologist in London, and to Carl Linnaeus in Sweden, after discovering linnaean classification in 1754. Alexander Garden’s parcels to Europe included ‘birds, fish, reptiles, amphibia, insects and plants’ from South Carolina or further afield, some from new species or genera which were then described in the scientific literature.
Baron Charles de Geer was a Swedish industrialist and entomologist. Ever since he had received a present of some silk worms at the age of eight, he had an interest in entomology and became a respected amateur entomologist at an early age. His major work was the Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des insectes (eight volumes, 1752-1778).
Their efforts are evidence of humanity’s profound interest in the natural spheres of the Earth and all that inhabits it. As Sarah concludes her brilliant article, the moths ‘are remarkable as everything that has a rare beauty’.
I agree with your details , great post.
very interesting subject , outstanding post.