Horror Alert: Vampire Moths

Just in time for Halloween, researchers in Siberia have identified a new species of vampire moth. Scratch that, make that two species of vampire moth, both discovered by Jennifer Zaspel from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The moths are remarkably similar to a strictly vegetarian moth called the Calyptra thalictri, leading Zaspel to speculate that this blood sucking relative represents a new evolutionary direction.

For the love of God, just stop...

Regular fruit eating moths often possess hooked/barbed tongues used to get under the skin of different fruits in order to get to the nectar inside. Over time, these tongues can...

...turn to more sinister uses. In this article on nationalgeographic.com, Zaspel explains how an animal that eats only fruit can evolve to crave virginal blood, "We see a progression from nectar feeding and licking or lapping at fruit juices to different kinds of piercing behaviors of fruits and then finally culminating in this skin piercing and blood-feeding." Coincidentally, the same description could be used to explain how perfectly good little kids end up becoming Goths in high school!

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Has anyone seen Sookie? I do believe I have a gift for her.

Amazingly, only the male moths appear to eat blood and because the behavoir does not seem to prolong their lives, Zaspel is speculating that it is a way for the males to pass along salt to the females while they are copulating, which in turn can be passed to the larvae and increase their chances of survival. Zaspel calls this a "sexual gift." In the interest of good taste, I'm going to refrain from making one of about one thousand possible jokes here.

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OK, OK, I'l refrain also. But those researchers are not following your rule: Don't stick your fingers in the cage.
It's odd: why don't the females suck blood (like mosquitoes), since they need it more.

By uncle noel (not verified) on 29 Oct 2008 #permalink

Possibly just because organisms don't always get a chance to evolve the best possible trait, they just get selected for the best of what came up?

Grr. Why did they say they "caught evolution in the act"?

Evolution is going on all the time, everywhere. Is it because they're assuming that this is a step toward the "end goal" of being able to digest the blood? They could end up using it for something completely different, or even continue using it the way they are now. There aren't any end goals!

I would think National Geo would know better.

do this kind of moth has any natural enemy?

interesting moths seem to be becoming blood-thirsty (if you permit my little joke) i wonder how this evolution is going to effect them

if they are becoming blood wanted i have a feeling in the future they might even be aggressive for example mosquitoes even if it seems not likely

Wow this is just crazy! Well, not actually. If there are such things as vampire bats then we should have been ready for something like this! There aren't JUST new creatures out there, there's more planets, most probably more foods, and maybe even more land.WARNING TO ALL:Get ready for things to come, because they're most probably ready for us! I'm sure that there's a whole lot comming for us AND GIRLS it has NOTHING to do with what hairband matches your earings, what earings match your top, what top matches your bottems,or what bottem matches your shoes!

I must say I am very impressed with his ability to reason things out for himself despite a life of indoctrination in the Baptist church. The fact that the feeling of being lied to drove him to spend a year and a half understanding the science as well as he could shows an incredible amount of dedication to seeking the truth (lower case t). I always feel with these sort of stories that science has missed out on a great brain.