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Moths of the Amazon and Andes
Marbled Witch
Letis caligula  MAASSEN, 1890
Superfamily - NOCTUOIDEA
Family - EREBIDAE
subfamily - CALPINAE
Tribe -
Letis caligula, Villa Rica, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The superfamily Noctuoidea is split into 6 families i.e. Erebidae, Noctuidae, Notodontidae, Euteliidae, Nolidae and Oenosandridae. The Erebidae comprises of 18 subfamilies of which 9 are represented in the neotropical region: Arctiinae, Calpinae, Erebinae, Lymantriinae, Rivulinae, Anobinae, Hypeninae, Herminiinae and Eulepidotinae.
Most moths in the subfamily Calpinae have proboscises that are modified to enable them to pierce and feed on fruit. They are divided into 3 tribes - Phyllodini, Ophiderini and Calpini, totalling about 400 known species worldwide.
There are 61 species in the genus Letis. All are largish nocturnal moths with a wingspan of between about 8-12cms, and are confined to the neotropical region. They are characterised by the pattern of dark wavy lines on a light brown ground colour, and a pair of ocelli in the forewing discal cell. Most species also have a wavy white post median line or band on the forewings. The wing margins are scalloped in all species, and more pronounced on the hindwings.
Moths in the closely related genus Ascalapha are very similar but bear a large ocellus at the tornus of the hindwing. One particular species Ascalapha odorata is known as the Black Witch. In some Latin American cultures it is considered bad luck - in Mexico for example of one of these moths flies into the house of a sick person it is believed they will die; while in Jamaica it is seen as an evil spirit returning to inflict harm on the living. Strangely in other cultures it is seen as a sign of good luck - in the Bahamas it is said that if a Black Witch lands on you, you will come into money.
Another closely related species is the White Witch Thysania agrippina, which has a similar pattern, but a white ground colour. It measures as much as 32cms across the wings, the greatest wingspan of any moth in the world ( there are other contenders for the title of largest moth - Attacus atlas from south-east Asia measures up to 30 cms across the wings but has a greater wing area ).
Letis caligula is distributed from Central America to Bolivia.
Habitats
This species is found in forested habitats at altitudes between sea level and about 1800m.
Lifecycle
To be completed.
Adult behaviour

The moths are commonly attracted to artificial lighting.

 

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