Eupithecia rhodopyra (Geometridae)

Endemic

 

Eupithecia rhodopyra caterpillar

Larva in its classic sit-and-wait pose on the edge of a frondlet

Eupithecia rhodopyra larva

The raptorial legs of this carnivore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note the large legs on the larva used for grasping prey. It also has two appendages at the tip of the abdomen (see E. orichloris) which act as triggers when touched by an insect — at which point the caterpillar reaches back quickly and grabs the prey. E. rhodopyra larvae can be distinguished from E. orichloris by a dorsal brown stripe (E. orichloris is solid green).

 

Eupithecia rhodopyra

Adult


 

Host plants recorded from the Alaka`i Swamp:

Although a predator, this species is found only on live uluhe fronds. Interestingly, I also collected a brown species of Eupithecia from dead uluhe fronds (which I did not successfully rear to adulthood). Their specialization appears to support their crypsis.

 

Development time in the laboratory at 20°C:

  • Larva: variable – 12 weeks in the lab with fairly regular feeding
  • Pupa: 2-3 weeks

I only reared two of these to adulthood. Larval development time may be as long as that of E. orichloris (16 weeks). Development time of larva varies widely, as it depends on how often they eat. They can go several weeks without food, as long as they have water to drink (never a problem in the Alaka`i Swamp). I fed my caterpillars several adult Drosophila melanogaster 1-2 times per week.

 

Larval parasitoids recorded from the Alaka`i Swamp:

None recorded. It has been speculated that the predatory nature of the carnivorous Eupithecia protects them from parasitic wasps. On the Eupithecia orichloris page is a short clip I took in the lab of a carnivorous inchworm reacting to a female Meteorus laphygmae placed in the same container, which provides some anecdotal support of this hypothesis.