The moth genus Monema is represented by medium-sized yellowish species. The genus belongs to the Limacodidae family also known as the slug moths due to the distinct resemblance of their caterpillars to some slug species. Some people know this family as the cup moths, the name derived from the peculiar looking, hard shell cocoon they form.
A recent study of the representatives of the Monema genus in China records 4 species and a subspecies present in the country, one of which is newly described to science. The new species has the characteristic yellow coloration for the genus, with a face blending from yellow to pale red. The study was published in the open access journal Zookeys.
The larvae of the genus like most larvae in the family bear close resemblance to slugs. They are typically very flattened, and instead of legs they have suckers which help them move by rolling waves rather than walking with individual legs. Another similar to slugs characteristic is the fact they use a lubricant to help their movement, which is a kind of liquified silk.
M. flavescens is an important pest of many trees in China. Prior to the present study the new species and M. meyi have been mistaken for the M. flavescens and therefore the works on their biology need to be revised. The morphology of larvae, host plants and bionomics of these 3 closely related species will be studied in the future.
Explore further: Tiny minotaurs and mini-Casanovas: Ancient pigmy moths reveal secrets of their diversity
Pan Z, Zhu C, Wu C (2013) A review of the genus Monema Walker in China (Lepidoptera, Limacodidae). ZooKeys 306: 23–36, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.306.5216