Friday Fun Facts: Oenochroma subustaria

Did ya know…?

Oenochroma subustaria is a species of moth of the Geometridae family, found in Australia, including Tasmania. Colloquially know as the Tasmanian Dreamstealer, Oenochroma subustaria is know for burrowing into the ears or nostrils of sleeping mammals, including homo sapiens, in order to feed on dreams.

The moths encircle the head of their potential food source, flitting about for an opening using a technique of navigation called oeneric orientation. By maintaining a constant angular relationship to powerful dream light, they can fly into an ear or nostril with surprising accuracy. When a Dreamstealer encounters dream light and begins to use it for navigation toward the dream source, the angle of approach will change noticeably. The moth instinctively attempts to hone in by turning toward the dream light, causing the moth to plummet downward and resulting in a spiral flight path that trends the moth closer and closer to the dream source.

As with moth adults, Tasmanian Dreamstealers do not have mouths and instead use their forelegs to probe the dream source for reverie nectar. Upon finding the nectar, the moth will plunge its forelegs into the dream source and ingest the nectar via reverse osmosis. This proces is physically imperceptible to the sleeping animal, however, reports by humans who’ve suffered Dreamstealer bites report horrific nightmares during the process and lingering night terrors for weeks thereafter.

Though known to induce rainbow-colored diarrhea in most mammmals, Oenochroma subustaria larvae are a primary food source for the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus).

…So now ya know!

Friday Fun Facts: Oenochroma subustaria

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