“Mud-puddling is the process of sucking-up liquids in order to gain essential nutrients, such as salt or proteins”, explains Marta. “It has only recently been observed in clearwing moths and, similarly as in other Lepidopterans, it seems to be restricted to males”.
The newly discovered species was named Pyrophleps ellawi in honour of Marta and Paolo’s Malaysian friend EL Law who supported the team during their expeditions and who has a deep affinity for nature.
Curiously, rather than resembling a butterfly’s relative, the new moth looks like an insect from a whole different order. It mimics potter wasps.
“It has a slender body, long legs and transparent wings with a blue sheen in sunlight, similarly to some species of potter wasps”, says Marta.
Furthermore, while observing the moth in the wild, the authors noticed that it does not only look like a wasp - it also flies like one.
“There were potter wasps in the same area. In flight, the two insects were impossible to distinguish, they would always confuse us!”