Moths of the Amazon and Andes
Scarlet-tipped Wasp Mimic
Phoenicoprocta vacillans  WALKER, 1856
Superfamily - NOCTUOIDEA

subfamily - ARCTIINAE


Phoenicoprocta vacillans, Rio Kosnipata, Peru  Adrian Hoskins
There are about 6000 known species of Arctiinae in the neotropical region. Most are noxious to birds and have aposematic or diematic warning coloration. The tribe Ctenuchini is entirely confined to the Americas. It is comprised of 2 subtribes Ctenuchina and Euchromiina which together account for a total of 2532 known species, of which 2496 are wholly neotropical in distribution. The remaining 36 species are partly or wholly North American in distribution. Almost all of the genera within these two subtribes consist entirely of species that mimic wasps or bees.
There are 26 known Phoenicoprocta species, all of which are neotropical in distribution. The moths are sexually dimorphic. The abdomens of males have rows of dorsal and lateral spots which are red or metallic blue according to species. In most species they also have a tussock of red scales at the tip of the abdomen. The wings of most species are clear except for the margins and apex which are black. An exception is hampsonii which has black wings with large translucent yellow patches, and has yellow spots on the abdomen. Females of most Phoenicoprocta species including vacillans have black forewings. The abdominal spots and tussocks are usually reduced or absent in females.
Phoenicoprocta vacillans is found in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
This species inhabits rainforest and cloudforest at elevations between about 200-1600m.
The eggs are light green in colour. The caterpillars of at least one Phoenicoprocta species feed on Serjania ( Sapindaceae ). When fully grown they are reddish, with a broad white mid-dorsal band, and paired tufts of black setae behind the head and at the tail.
Adult behaviour

The adults are diurnal. On hot sunny mornings they are often seen probing for moisture on boulders or pebbles in the vicinity of small streams.


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