This beautiful moth is a fruit-piercing moth (Noctuidae: Calpinae [sometimes included in subfamily Ophiderinae or Catocalinae]) in the genus Eudocima. There are several similar looking species in India, but I believe this one is probably Eudocima hypermnestra.
I found this moth on a broomstick near the window inside my house. It was quite camouflaged in olive green color and was acting like a leaf. But when it took to wings the bright yellow underwings showed as a contrast. This was probably to startle their predators by the sudden burst of color.
The moth was quite docile and allowed me to handle easily. So I was able to coax it to pose me on a white sheet of paper. After posing for me for a short while it must have got bored. It flew and sat on the window pane where I was able to get few more pictures of this lovely moth before flying away. I used my trusted rig of Canon EOS 5D mark II fitted with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. For illumination I used ExpoImaging Ray Flash Adapter fitted on Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash.
The fruit piercing moths are very widespread, being found in Africa, India, South-east Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. A wide range of fruits is attacked, particularly banana, citrus, guava, mango, papaya and tomato. The adult moth is active at night. It lands on the ripening fruit, pierces the skin with the tip of its proboscis and sucks out the juices. The tip of the proboscis is armed with saw teeth. A brown, circular, rotten area develops round the tiny puncture hole.
This moth is a known vector of Oospora citri, a fungus that rots the fruit and has a penetrating odor that attracts this moth. Other microorganisms that gain entrance into the fruit and cause rotting include Fusarium sp., Colletotrichum sp., and several types of bacteria.
When moths are abundant green fruit is attacked, causing premature ripening and dropping of fruits. On oranges, a green fruit turns yellow at the site of the piercing and fungi soon develop within the wound. On tomatoes, the puncture of the tomato skin causes the fruit to turn white and quickly rot. Incidence of damage by this moth is normally low, however when outbreaks occur, most of the crop is affected.
Sometimes the rotten fruit falls from the tree. To distinguish the damage caused by the fruit-piercing moth from that caused by fruit-flies, the fruit should be cut open; in fruit-fly damaged fruit, the grubs (larvae) can usually be seen and the fruit flesh has far more liquid than in fruit damaged by the fruit-piercing moth, which are soft and mushy.
The adult moths are about 3.5-5.0 cm long, with a wing span of8-10cm. The body is pale- to purple-brown with a dull yellow abdomen. The fore-wings are of an olive-brown to red-brown color often flecked with green and white. The under-wings are edged with a black border which has white dots along the edge, and have an inner orange area with a black comma-shaped mark inside it.
The female lays up to 300 eggs at a time.
Closely related to this Eudocima hypermnestra is another moth belonging to the same sub family Calpinae, which was in news for wrong reasons. It was named as Vampire moth as it was one of the rare species of moth which fed on blood. A widely distributed moth species, Calyptra thalictri, in central and southern Europe known to feed only on fruit. Siberian variety was fed on blood experimentally to prove that they do feed on animal products. You can read more on this National Geographic article on Vampire moths.
EXIF info – Aperture : ƒ/14 | Camera : Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Taken : 2 October, 2010 | Flash fired : yes | Focal length : 100mm | ISO : 100 | Shutter speed : 1/125s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.