Moths of the Amazon and Andes
Deaf Zebra
Euchontha frigida  WALKER, 1864
Superfamily - NOCTUOIDEA
subfamily - DIOPTINAE
Euchontha frigida, Rio Madre de Dios, 400m, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
The subfamily Dioptinae comprises of 456 known species arranged into 2 tribes and 43 genera. The moths are almost entirely neotropical in distribution: only one species Phryganidia californica being found north of Mexico. All are day-flying, and most are brightly coloured, typically with aposematic patterns in yellow, orange or white on a black ground colour. They are involved in Batesian mimicry rings with various Ithomiine butterflies, and with moths from the subfamilies Arctiinae ( Erebidae ) and Sterrhinae ( Geometridae ).
Dioptinae, like most other moths have tympanal organs 'ears' at the base of the thorax. These are generally accepted as having evolved to allow them to detect the echo-location calls of predatory bats. These moths however are all day-flying species, and experiments have shown that they are virtually deaf. This implies that their ancestors were nocturnal, and that the ability to hear was lost when they evolved to become day-flying and were no longer exposed to bats.
Euchontha are similar in appearance to certain species of Sterrhinae and Arctiinae but can easily be distinguished from them by their distinctive venation and the presence of prominent orange spots on the thorax. There are 12 known species, all confined to the Amazonian region.
Euchontha frigida is distributed along the eastern Andes from Colombia to Peru.
This species occurs in primary rainforest, typically in the vicinity of small streams, at altitudes between about 200-1000 metres.
The larvae of Dioptinae are cylindrical, usually slightly translucent greenish in colour and marked with dark bands along the back and sides. They have a sparse covering of short setae. I have no information regarding the larval foodplants of Euchontha, but other species of Dioptinae typically feed on Passiflora ( Passifloraceae ) or Tumera ( Turneraceae ).
Adult behaviour

This moth is commonly found in two's and three's imbibing mineralised moisture on sandbanks, dry river beds and urine-soaked ground in lowland rainforest. It usually feeds at wet ground where water from streams laps against rocks or gravel.

The adults always feed and rest with the wings folded back and held flat against the substrate.


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