Bundle of Sticks: Psychidae (30)
|Friends, today I came across a creature that left me all puzzled. |
First, let me tell you the story.
This afternoon at about 3 p.m., I was on my way out of my office and walking to the car park. My Deputy was walking with me. Suddenly, he stopped and pointed down at the path we were walking on. There was a small bundle of sticks (about one and a half inch long)and an insect was sticking out of it partially and dragging the bundle behind it. My Deputy has been seeing me pottering around the campus looking for bugs and birds for the last three months and he too has got enthused about nature even though he is not a nature photographer.
I frantically started getting my DSLR ready and Ali, my Deputy, knelt down to have a closer look at the strange insect. His action startled the insect and it quickly withdrew into the bundle of sticks. By the time I was ready with my camera, it again came out tentatively and started crawling forward with the bundle behind it. Its efforts were laborious and occasionally the round shaped bundle made its movement unsteady. I took three shots of it in succession. Then I touched the bundle with my finger and the insect withdrew into it at lightning speed and clammed itself tightly shut inside. The membrane you can see at the entrance to the bundle just sealed itself.
Seeing that the insect had gone into prolonged defensive stance, I picked up the bundle and gently placed it among plants bordering the lawn since it was heading in that direction only with lots of ground still to cover. Mystified, my Deputy and I then walked away to my car.
After posting the picture, the correct ID of this insect once again came from our erudite friend Ivan.
Thanks a lot, Ivan, for educating me.
The Psychidae (bagworm moths, also simply bagworms or bagmoths) are a family of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). The bagworm family is fairly small, with about 600 species described.
The caterpillar larvae of the Psychidae construct cases out of silk and environmental materials such as sand, soil, lichen, or plant materials. These cases are attached to rocks, trees or fences while resting or during their pupa stage, but are otherwise mobile. The larvae of some species eat lichen, while others prefer green leaves. In many species, the adult females lack wings and are therefore difficult to identify accurately. Case-bearer cases are usually much smaller, flimsier, and consist mainly of silk, while bagworm "bags" resemble caddisfly cases in their owtward appearance – a mass of (mainly) plant detritus spun together with silk on the inside.
Bagworm cases range in size from less than 1 cm to 15 cm among some tropical species. Each species makes a case particular to its species, making the case more useful to identify the species than the creature itself. Cases among the more primitive species are flat. More specialized species exhibit a greater variety of case size, shape, and composition, usually narrowing on both ends. Body markings are rare. Adult females of many bagworm species have only vestigial wings, legs, and mouthparts. The adult males of most species are strong fliers with well-developed wings and feathery antennae but survive only long enough to reproduce due to under developed mouthparts that prevent them from feeding. Their wings have few of the scales characteristic of most moths, instead having a thin covering of hairs.
Another view of the insect can be seen in the Workshop.
PLEASE CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE LARGER VERSION>
Thanks for looking.