What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Great Big Moth!
Location: Milwaukee, WI
November 15, 2010 11:49 pm
When I was out feeding my feral kitties this afternoon I saw what I thought was a leaf poking out of the slats of the porch. Looking closer, I saw that it had antennae and little legs! The wing span was about 4-5 inches and was a pale greyish brown with some darker accent marks.
I thought at first the beastie was dead- I live in Wisconsin and it is, after all, mid-November, so I tried to pick it up. I just about jumped out of my skin when the thing came to life and started to wiggle it’s legs! I left it on the porch to do it’s mothy business. When I went to take a photograph the wind blew the moth over and I saw it had a fuzzy, dark rusty-colored body and lighter orange-red color on the underside of it’s wings. Do you know what this is? I’ve never seen a moth so big!
Thank you for your help!
Signature: Angela

Owl Moth

Dear Angela,
This is a very exciting report for us.  This is an Owl Moth,
Thysania zenobia, a neotropical species that is found in Mexico, and the only U.S. reports on BugGuide are from Texas, however, the info page on BugGuide contains this information:  “Recorded through much is eastern North America east of the Rockies: AR, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, ND, NY, OH, RI, SC, SD, TX, WI; Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. Ranges south into South America. Range map.“  The Texas Entomology website has this information: “Caveney (2007) reports 14 Owl moth records from Canada. The western-most and northern-most record was collected in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Neil (1979) reports the eastern-most record at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. It was collected in late summer or early fall 1944. The specimen is in the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Halifax.

Update: November 16, 2010
Hi again Angela.  We looked again at the Range Map provided by the Texas Entomology website and there are four reported sightings from Wisconsin.  There is a cluster of three sightings in the 1940s in Kewaunee and a single sighting in 1999 from Bayfield Co., N. Great Lakes Visitor Center, nr. Ashland.  You may want to contact Mike Quinn at the Texas Entomology website and report your sighting.

Sept 21, 1999

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Wisconsin
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