Alberto Zilli is curator of Lepidoptera at perhaps the world's largest repository of biota. He oversees what is almost certainly the largest collection Thysania agrippina (and T. pomponia!) specimens. My friends Diane and Joe Foley were going on a trip to London in early March. They agreed to meet with Alberto, ask some questions, and record images of the collection. Alberto is a classic entomologist, inspired about lepidoptera from an early age. On a trip to Brazil at age 13, he encountered a white witch, and has been particularly attuned to the story of Thysania since. There are some tantalizing hints at geographic trends in coloration and form. This is a re-edit of a video I posted earlier.
8 April 2015 - From a blog on the www site of Osa Conservation, a group concerned with preservation of habitat in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica: moth seen at light sheet in Feb 2015. The team did not immediately ID the absurdly large moth - but googling "very large white moth with black markings" answered their question. That David Larson (Prof Emeritus, Univ of Alberta, Augustana) reports that this is the first white witch seen during sampling is interesting. Particularly as the documentation is solid: 4 years of light sheet sampling, 3 habitats (primary and secondary forests, riverine), one white witch. Are white witches rare at the site? Or are they rare for the sampling period, Feb of each year? Photos of Anne McIntosh, and white witch on sheet (photos D Larson and A McIntosh)--DLC
4 April 2015 - The photo here is one of 9 specimens from the Yale Peabody Museum collection (see photo page). It experienced some hard times, with at least 3 areas of wing damage. A close look at the high resolution image shows lost scales and more general wear of the wing margins. This moth had been flying for a long time. More specimens like this would help us to make educated guesses about moth longevity (if, e.g., there were a progression of wear at a site over time) or dispersal (if, e.g., moths at certain locations were typically old, at the end of a migratory flight). --DLC