Brahmaeidae (Brahmin moths)

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Brahmaeidae in the wild
Brahmaeidae, known as “Owl moths” and “Brahmin moths” are a very small family of moths with about 40 known species. They are found in Asia, Europe and Africa where they form several divergent  but related evolutionary groups.  Interestingly, many Brahmaeidae adults (such as Brahmaea sp.) have a reduced, but still functioning proboscis. They are reported to be “non-feeding” moths, but in captivity some species are observed to drink water if sprayed with a water bottle. Thus it is theorised that these moths do not take in any food and are short lived as adults, but they can prolong their lifespans by drinking water and absorbing much needed moisture from rain or dewdrops. Since recently they also include Lemonia sp. and Lemoniidae.  They include a few very poorly studies species from genera such as Sabalia, Spiramiopsis, Dactyloceras, Calliprogonos and more. New species and genera are still being explored. To the untrained eye, some of the large species may be mistaken for Saturniidae; although their morphology and especially antennae are fundamentally different. Most if not all species seem to be breedable in captivity. Males have comb-like, feathery antennae, that are often feathered on only one side instead of two. Larvae often have remarkable appendages,  whip-like tentacles, hairs and/or horns.

Brahmaeidae in captivity
A number of Brahmaeidae have proven to be succesful in captivity. Especially moths from genus Brahmaea are very simple to breed and are often displayed in zoos or butterfly houses since they are big and showy moths with fascinating larvae with easily obtainable food plants. Other genera of Brahmaeidae remain a complete biological mystery however – in fact of some obscure genera, the caterpillars or host plants remain completely unrecorded to science. Despite that, if provided the right conditions and food plants, even the rare and obscure genera become easy to breed. The limiting factor in most cases appears to be obtaining the correct food plants for them. Some genera specialise in obscure or hard to obtain Asclepiadaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Oleaceae, Asteraceae and more. In some cases the host plants and early life stages are even completely unknown.

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    Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications] 

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