Insect Hybridisation? (The Latest in a Series of Daft Questions!)

I caught a moth in the trap last night which showed features of two different species. Regardless of how it is eventually identified, it got me thinking. I know plants hybridise, as do some animals, but I’ve never heard of it in insects or, specifically, moths. So, do moth species interbreed?

All organisms do to some extent and for microbes it is much more complicated with horizontal gene transfer and similar. It is more a matter of how much and with which other taxa.

Searching Google Scholar for moth or Lepidoptera hybrid or hybridisation brings up a lot of false positives, but there’s quite a bit of literature about hybridisation (and speciation) in Heliconius. There’s a general problem that searching for hybridisation in insect taxa brings up papers on hybridisation in host plants.

Good question - thanks

The most convincing - but not authoritative - answer I’ve seen so far (on FaceBook) is “Moths don’t hybridise because they have very specific ‘lock and key’ genitalia, so they must mate within their own species. This is why ‘gen det’ ID is possible for otherwise hard to distinguish species.” Other comments / suggestions still most welcome.

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