Annette Aiello

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Potential co-supervisors
Robert Robbins at the USNM, any STRI or UI entomologists
Annette Aiello

My research interests lie in lepidopteran life histories and larval self-defences, and in what the immature stages (i.e., eggs, larvae, pupae) and larval food plants can tell us about evolutionary relationships. Though over the years I have recorded varying degrees of life history information for at least 1,200 species (representing 43 families) of Panamanian Lepidoptera and their parasitoid wasps and flies, my special interests are in the butterfly genus Adelpha (Nymphalidae) and the moth genus Oxytenis (Oxytenidae).

The wing patterns of the 85 species of Adelpha butterflies presently known have caused much confusion to those attempting to understand species relationships. My rearings of 13 of the 36 Panamanian species reveal that the larvae, pupae, and food plants show clear species groupings and that adult wing patterns are deceptive and possibly mimetic. What genes may be responsible for wing patterning in Adelpha? Are they conserved amongst taxa?

Moths of the genus Oxytenis resemble dead leaves and the species are difficult to distinguish. That is especially true for the females, which are quite similar to one another and rarely are collected because they tend not to come to lights. The larvae are more ea sily distinguished, but tend to be polymorphic for color pattern complexity. Strange to say, the larvae are superficially similar to those of several species of Adelpha. Can we develop genomic resources to differentiate between cryptic species of moths?

Suggested Reading
  • Aiello, Annette. 2006. Adelpha erotia erotia form "lerna" (Nymphalidae): exploring a corner of the puzzle. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 60(4): 181-188.

  • Aiello, A., and M.A. Balcázar. 1997. The immature stages of Oxytenis modestia (Cramer), with comments on the mature larvae of Asthenidia and Homoeopteryx (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae: Oxyteninae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 51(2): 105-118.

  • Freitas, A.V., K.S. Brown, Jr., and A. Aiello. 2001. Biology of Adelpha mythra feeding on Asteraceae, a novel plant family for the Neotropical Limenitidinae (Nymphalidae), and new data on Adelpha "Species-Group VII." Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 54(3): 97-100.