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Skin-Piercing and Blood-Feeding Moths, Calyptra spp. (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Calpinae)

Blood feeding is an ordinary way of life for many insects, but within Lepidoptera, the ability to pierce mammalian skin and take a blood meal is restricted to the moth genus Calyptra Ochsenheimer (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Calpinae). Calyptra consists of seventeen described species and two subspecies. These are medium-sized moths with wingspans ranging from 35 to 72 mm in size. Calyptra species have modified proboscides equipped with strongly sclerotized tearing hooks used for piercing the skin of hard fruits such as peaches and citrus, and of mammals. The number of apical tearing hooks of the proboscis varies between species and among specimens, but this variation does not appear to be in any way associated with one piercing behavior or the other (e.g., sucking fruit juices versus sucking blood). The tearing hooks are unique to a tribe of apparently closely related fruit-piercing moths consisting of