Evolution and Systematics
Highly sensitive antennae of many moths help them detect female sex pheromones thanks to many hairlike olfactory receptors.
"Certain types of moth have an olfactory sensitivity that verges on the supernatural. They can detect a single molecule of the female sex hormone from miles away. Males of the saturniid, bombycid, and lasiocampid families of moth, which include luna, emperor, polyphemus, vaporer, and silk moths, have large, feathery antennae that bear the moths' hairlike olfactory receptors in great quantities (as many as 60,000 in some species). Thanks to their broad shape, the antennae come into contact with the largest possible volume of air, making them perfect scent receivers." (Shuker 2001:28)
"The females of some moths produce an odour that the males can detect with large feathery antennae. So sensitive are these organs and so characteristic and powerful is the scent, that a female has been known to summon a male from eleven kilometres away. At such a distance there must be as little as one molecule of scent in a cubic yard of air, yet it is sufficient to cause the male to fly in pursuit of its source. He needs both antennae to do this. With only one, he cannot establish direction, but with two he can judge on which side the scent is stronger and so fly steadily towards it. A female emperor moth, in a cage in a wood, transmitting a perfume undetectable to our nostrils, has attracted over a hundred huge males from the surrounding countryside within three hours." (Attenborough 1979:96)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Shuker, KPN. 2001. The Hidden Powers of Animals: Uncovering the Secrets of Nature. London: Marshall Editions Ltd. 240 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
Specimens with Sequences:2036
Specimens with Barcodes:1939
Species With Barcodes:156
The Bombycidae are a family of moths. The best-known species is Bombyx mori (Linnaeus) or silkworm, native to northern China and domesticated for millennia. Another well known species is Bombyx mandarina, also native to Asia.
The family consists of 21 genera and about 150 species, most of which belong to the nominate subfamily Bombycinae.
The family was recently severely restricted, and currently contains only two subfamilies, the Bombycidae and Epiinae (previously the tribe Epiini). The former subfamilies Oberthueriinae and Prismostictinae have been placed as subjective junior synonyms of Endromidae. The former subfamily Phiditiinae is reinstated as a separate family, the Phiditiidae.
This list is provisional. Genera such as Apatelodes and Olceclostera are placed in the Apatelodidae, if these are considered valid. Ephoria may be a synonym of Epholca (Geometridae: Ennominae: Ourapterygini), and Epia may be one of Hadena (Noctuidae: Hadeninae: Hadenini).
- "Increased gene sampling yields robust support for higher-level clades within Bombycoidea (Lepidoptera)". Onlinelibrary.wiley.com. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
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