Skin-Piercing Vampire Moth Vants Your Blood

No thanks to climate change, Finland is attracting species better-acquainted with warmer climes, including a moth that binges on human blood, according to a Finnish nature periodical.

Insect watchers have observed nearly 200 sightings of this creature of the night (Calyptra thalictri) since it was first spotted in the Nordic country in 2000, writes Kauri Mikkola, a researcher at the Finnish Museum of Natural History at the University of Helsinki, in the June issue of Suomen Luonto.He also notes that the bloodsucker is the first moth species in the world with the proven ability to fill its stomach with human blood; a puncture by a vampire moth can cause your skin to swell, turn reddish, and ache for several hours, as experienced by one hapless researcher.

Still, there's no reason to board up your windows and nail down your doors, says Mikkola. "A human being is a suitable target, having a bare skin. However, one would normally drive the moth away, while in this case a researcher was interested in the behavior of the creature", he says, adding that a puncture by the moth is unlikely to spread disease.

Contrary to the popular belief that the female is the deadlier of the species, only the male moths of this genus suck blood. The unholy terror is otherwise noted for its predilection for fruit, as well as—oddly enough—the tears of large animals such as elk and cows. In fact, the Finnish name for the moth, kyynelyökkönen, is based on "kyynel," the Finnish word for "tear." :: Helsingin Sanomat

Tags: Biodiversity | Finland

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