Beautiful Animals You've Never Heard of
In this article, I've tried my hand at some moths, birds, and butterflies, just for some variety. Typically, I try to include animals that have little time behind the camera, but are just as deserving of the limelight. So go on, learn something!
Glasswing Butterfly (Greta Oto)
Found mostly in Central America, the most striking feature of a glasswing butterfly is obviously its wings. The species has developed an absence of wing scales, allowing them to camouflage into whichever environment they find themselves in.
Apart from being beautiful, the glasswinged butterfly exhibits unusual behaviour. Unlike most butterflies, the glasswing butterfly has been known to migrate great distances, a risky business when so delicate. It has a lifespan of around 12 weeks, which is about three times as long as the average for a butterfly, and on top of all that, males of the species have been known to group together for competitive mating displays, or leks.
Its name in Spanish, espejitos, means 'Little Mirrors'.
Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa Rubicunda)
In writing this article, my girlfriend insisted I include this rosy maple moth, which she first encountered through Tumblr. For those among you who have seen the TV show, "My Little Pony" you might think of Fluttershy when you see this moth. And just this once, I'll forgive you...
As the somewhat uninspired name would suggest, this type of moth feeds on maple leaves and oak trees, and has a pink-to-rose coloured wings and legs. It has even been known as a pest in some areas of America.
During population explosions, the caterpillar of this moth has been known to do significant damage to the foliage of maple trees. Sigh, it's always the pretty ones.
Something interesting: The adults of this species never feed. They live for around two weeks from the energy they gained while eating as a caterpillar.
Mandarin Ducks (Aix Galericulata)
Mandarin ducks are colourful, no doubt about that. A mix of purples, oranges, whites, and reds, they have the same colour palette as a pack of Crayola! They originated in Eastern China, but today have spread throughout Japan, Russia and America.
The mandarin duck is closely related to the Wood Duck, which is equally as colourful, but a fair bit more common.
In both Chinese and Korean culture, the mandarin duck is used in marriage ceremonies as a symbol of fidelity. Mandarin ducks mate for life, having the same partner until they die. Because the female mandarin duck is rather drab compared to the male, the animal is also used to describe an "unlikely pair."
The mandarin duck is not endangered, but understandably faces threats from poachers who prize their plumage.
The Call of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura Victoria)
The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is named after Queen Victoria, and is native to parts of New Guinea. It has a very distinctive 'whooping' call, which can be heard in the video above.
The distinguishing feature of all crowned pigeons is their crown and their size. This bird is quite large, and easily recognised by it's blue and red plumage, as well as it's large white crown. It is also flightless, relying on underbrush for safety.
All crowned pigeons have melanistic genes. This means that almost any crowned pigeon has the possibility of being born completely black.
Despite occasionally having brilliant blue feathers, this bird is hunted for its meat more so than it's appearance, which I suppose is a good thing.
Texas Wasp Moth (Horama Panthalon)
True to my word, the animal above is not a wasp, but actually a moth commonly found in Texas and Southeastern America. Who would have thought?
It's evolved to look like a paper wasp, so that it isn't attacked by birds and other predators. The toxin of paper wasps is highly toxic to animals like wolves, cats, and birds of prey, so looking like this animal has it's advantages.
Unlike most other species of moths, the mimicry of a poisonous insect allows it to move freely during the daytime, so it is not nocturnal.
Grey-Crowned Crane (Balearica Regulorum)
Probably the most striking of the animals in this list, the grey-crowned crane is the national animal of Uganda. Despite its popularity in some areas, it remains threatened by a myriad of factors. In the past 45 years, the population of this African crane has been damaged by:
- Habitat loss
- Illegal removal of eggs
- Heavy use of pesticides
- Dam construction
- Illegal pet trade
- Poisoning, as a method of human retaliation
- Coal mining disturbance
- And even more, which can be found at The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
This bird is one of only two cranes that are able to roost in trees. It has a long hind toe not found in other species of crane which allows it to grasp tree branches while sleeping. While little is known of the genetic history of cranes, some believe that the presence of this hind toe is an indicator of the ancestral age of the bird.
Giant Leopard Moth
At nearly three inches wide, this moth is quite large. It is commonly white with an orange and blue thorax, visible only when the caterpillar curls into a ball for defence. As seen in the photo above, the giant leopard moth is covered in solid and hollow black spots, some of which are also iridescent blue in the centre.
Adult moths very rarely venture out in the daytime, as they are strictly nocturnal. As is apparently common with moths, the adults spend their lives reproducing, and do not eat.
And Now, It's Poll Time!
Which one was your favourite?
© 2013 Jared Miles