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Being a vampire can be brutal
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Author: SUSAN MILIUS
Publication Date: October 18, 2017
Website: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/blood-real-vampires-animals

Jennifer Zaspel can’t explain why she stuck her thumb in the vial with the moth. Just an after-dark, out-in-the-woods zing of curiosity.

She was catching moths on a July night in the Russian Far East and had just eased a Calyptra, with brownish forewings like a dried leaf, into a plastic collecting vial. Of the 17 or so largely tropical Calyptra species, eight were known vampires. Males will vary their fruit diet on occasion by driving their hardened, fruit-piercing mouthparts into mammals, such as cattle, tapirs and even elephants and humans, for a drink of fresh blood.

Zaspel, however, thought she was outside the territory where she might encounter a vampire species. She had caught C. thalictri, widely known from Switzerland and France eastward into Japan as a strict fruitarian.

Before capping the vial with the moth, “I just for no good reason stuck my thumb in there to see what it would do,” Zaspel says. “It pierced my thumb and started feeding on me.”

Make that eight-plus vampires. Zaspel, an entomologist now at the Milwaukee Public Museum, is still puzzling over the genetics of the moths at the two Russian field sites she visited in 2006. Males there will bite a researcher’s thumb if offered, yet genetic testing so far shows the moths are part of a vast, otherwise mild-mannered species.


The tubelike mouthpart of a Calyptra thalictri moth extracts blood from a researcher. Long thought to be a strict fruitarian, the moth is better adapted to pierce a plum than a thumb.
J. ZASPEL
Which is just as well. As vampires go, these moths are not stealth biters. “I would compare it to a bee sting,” Zaspel says. For the sake of moth science, one of Zaspel’s colleagues voluntarily documented the experience, noting that a moth will feed as long as 20 minutes. Such moth bites definitely get noticed. For these moths and other real-life vampires, being smacked to a smear is a bigger danger than getting staked through the heart.
Nabbing the occasional red lunch, or managing to survive on nothing but blood, is far more difficult than it looks in the movies. The relatively few animals that manage the lifestyle are indeed remarkable: some insects and other arthropods, a few mollusks, some fishes, birds on occasion and, of course, three kinds of bats.


Date Added: May 20, 2018
Added By: AbsintheandBlood
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