Butterflies and Their Food Plants

Othorene bernardoespinozai Moth

Quercus oleoides Host Plant

Costa Rica

From the researcher's perspective...

In the early 1980's, when the ACG caterpillar inventory was newborn and focused on the dry forest of Sector Santa Rosa, the large caterpillars of Saturniidae fell quickly to the searchers. Simultaneously, the adults at the light traps quickly tallied up to an asymptote—more nights and more years did not generate more species for the dry forest saturniid list. There were 29 species at the lights and 28 species of caterpillars. Where was the missing caterpillar of Othorene veranaDHJ01? Common at the lights, though often confused by collectors with its look-alike Othorene purpurascens, O. veranaDHJ01 "must" have a common and large caterpillar, but it simply was not being found by all an ever increasing number of people.

So, in 1984, in frustration, the inventory broke its own rule of not explicitly searching for any particular species (such explicit search is good way to seriously lower the inventory yield per dollar of US tax dollars spent). Several plump egg-filled and fertilized females were caught at the lights, and they laid—as saturniids are wont to do—hundreds of eggs glued to the insides of their plastic bag cages. Six days later, they hatched and five of the hungry first instars were put into a small plastic bag with several leaves of a species of tree—300 species to be exact.

The caterpillars rejected all species of tree leaves except those of Quercus oleoides (shown), the single common lowland tropical Central American oak (actually, Q. oleoides is really the same species as Q. virginiana, the Virginia live oak of the eastern and southern United States, which magically changes its name to Q. oleioides about where it crosses the border into Mexico). This evergreen oak once covered tens of thousands of hectares of ACG dry forest and still maintains what appears to be a healthy breeding population, which we now know supports a healthy breeding population of O. veranaDHJ01.

Dr. Daniel Janzen

DNA Barcode of Othorene bernardoespinozai

Accessed from Barcode of Life Data Systems

BLPCM616-08 | 08-SRNP-102213 | Othorene verana | COI-5P