Sibine argentata, Tatama NP, Colombia ©
The superfamily Zygaenoidea is represented in the neotropical region
by the families Limacodidae, Megalopygidae, Dalceridae, Epipyropidae
The Limacodidae is one of the most interesting of the Lepidopteran
families. The adult moths have massive abdomens and huge thick
finger-like legs. Freshly emerged adults have a shiny satin-like
appearance and often exhibit rich purplish-red tones, but these tend
to quickly fade to a dull brown.
The genus Sibine is comprised of 50
species, most of which are neotropical in distribution although one
species stimulea has a range that extends
into the southern states of the USA.
Sibine argentata is distributed from
Panama to Brazil and Peru.
This species inhabits subtropical and tropical forest at elevations
between about 200-1800m.
The eggs are thin, flat and transparent. They are laid in clusters
on leaves of the foodplants which include a wide variety of trees
and shrubs. Limacodid caterpillars are among the most extraordinary
insects on the planet. Some, such as Phobetron
are bright orange and have extremely long curved lateral
protruberances each of which creates the illusion that it is an
individual caterpillar rather than an appendage of a single one.
Sibine larvae are bright green with a
large purplish 'saddle' ringed with white. The thoracic and anal
segments are also purplish, and are armed with conical fleshy horns
that bear tussocks of stinging hairs which can inflict severe pain.
The larvae are flattened and their prolegs are reduced to form small
suckers. Being unable to walk normally, they lay down a cushion of
lubricant on which they glide slug-like along leaves.
The pupa is formed within a very hard cocoon, which has a circular
escape hatch formed along a line of weakness. Prior to emergence the
pupa stretches and forces the hatch open to allow the moth to
During the daytime the adults rest on tree trunks or branches.
Sibine argentata, Satipo, Peru ©