Stick Your Tongue Out at the Camera

head with partially unfurled proboscis of owlet moth resting on human skin

This owlet moth’s probsoscis is a bit like that vacuum cord that won’t wind all the way back up; it just hangs out loose.

Once in a while I come across a moth with a “sloppy” proboscis: usually the mouth structures of a moth or butterfly are extended like a bendy straw for feeding, sipping or lapping up some goodness; or they are rolled up in a tidy coil when not in use. I’m curious as to whether it is a symptom of something else. I will say this owlet moth (Family Noctuidae) was very docile and in like-new condition when I found it. I can’t remember why I was relocating it, but the moth was very cooperative as far as bugs being handled goes. Perhaps it was newly emerged; maybe that has something to do with the messy mouth? Oh well, another minor mystery to file away. (Two more photos after the break/below.)

owlet moth hanging on and peeking over human finger

“And why am I on your finger?” (Looks a little nerdier from this angle, no?)

owlet moth sitting on hairy human skin

(Almost) the full body view of a docile owlet moth (Noctuidae).

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3 thoughts on “Stick Your Tongue Out at the Camera

  1. Those face photos are good and sharp. I was wondering on the third photo, if that was an eye spot on the tail…maybe some biomimicry going on?

    1. Hi Pat, sorry I missed this comment (from February!). My inbox is a mess…regarding your question, I’m not sure if it is an eye spot proper, thought the pattern suggests the moth uses some sort of crypsis as a strategy. A lot of these moths resting on the right surface can really blend in.

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