A moth that looks like it crawled out of a shadowy underworld is freaking out Facebook users, including some who are wondering whether the creature in the post is even real.
First, the bad news: It's real. The moth is called Creatonotos gangis, and it lives in parts of Southeast Asia and Australia.
Now, the good news: The moth in the video is likely looking for love. (We admit, this may be good news only for entomologists and other insect-lovers.) [7 Things You Don't Know About Moths, But Should]
On Oct. 19, Facebook user Gandik, from Semarang, Indonesia, posted a photo and video of the weird insect with the caption, "If you do not have a butterfly, please." (translated from Javanese.) In the video, the moth is rhythmically waving a bizarre, hairy appendage that looks like a large, grey "X."
This appendage is actually called a coremata — an organ at the end of a male moth's abdomen that can be everted (that is, turned inside out) to expose tufts of hair, according to the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House, in Australia. When it's inflated, as it is in the video, this hairy organ releases smelly pheromones in an attempt to woo lady moths.
But while female C. gangis moths may find this scent irresistible, they are likely in the minority. Most farmers can't stand the species because their caterpillars are known to eat crops, including soybeans, rice and maize, according to the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House.
Once the C. gangis caterpillars — brown and hairy creatures that have a yellow stripe down their backs — metamorphose into moths, they develop brown forewings and white hindwings. The abdomen is usually red, but in some cases, it's yellow, according to the butterfly house. Their total wingspan is about 1.5 inches (4 centimeters).
C. gangisfemales lay round, yellow eggs, often on leaves in clusters of 50, so if you don't want any in your neck of the woods, be on the lookout for these little guys. But if you have a soft spot for these arthropods, you can watch them grow up and wave their coremata, just like nature intended.
Original article on Live Science.