Moths of the Amazon
Godart's Bullseye moth
Superfamily - BOMBYCOIDEA
Family - SATURNIIDAE
© Adrian Hoskins
are about 260 species in the genus Automeris.
The forewings of most species are
brownish, marked with dark lines; and usually have a dark blotch at
the end of the discal cell. When they are at rest, with the
hindwings concealed, they are convincing dead leaf mimics. Some
species instead have greyish forewings mottled or marbled with
darker tones, providing them with a very effective bark-like
camouflage when they are at rest on tree trunks. The hindwings of
most species feature large conspicuous false eyes, set against a
yellowish or orange ground colour.
species was found in transitional cloudforest at an altitudes of
larvae of most Automeris species are
bright green, marked laterally with dashes or stripes of red ( or
orange ) and white. Along the back and sides are rows of
multi-branched stinging spines, each like a miniature Xmas tree.
When young the larvae feed gregariously, but they gradually disperse
and become solitary by the final instar.
Automeris species are polyphagous -
e.g. the known foodplants of Automeris io
include such unrelated pabula as Salix,
If the moths are
disturbed they immediately drop to the ground and uncover their
hindwings to reveal the startling eye-spots. At the same time they
usually arch their abdomens, and twitch violently, thrusting the
hindwings and their eye-spots forward in a series of rhythmical
movements. The effect on humans is usually to recoil in shock. Birds
probably react in a similar manner, and in many cases are so
startled or scared that the moths escape being eaten.