What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

black bug, white spots, red butt,
Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 1:50 PM
I found this bug in the parking lot at work. I have never seen it before and it seemed odd because it is currently around 45 or so degrees in Savannah right now and not the type of weather to see relatively large insects like this one.
Savannah, Georgia

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

This is a Polka Dot Wasp Moth, Syntomeida epilais, and its caterpillars feed on the leaves of oleander, so it is also called the Oleander Moth. BugGuide has no reports from Georgia, but it does have reports from South Carolina and Florida, and since Georgia is in the middle, one can assume that the moth’s range includes Georgia.  The Polka Dot Wasp Moth is also reported from Texas.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

17 Responses to Polka Dot Wasp Moth

  1. sarah says:

    We discovered this colorful bug in Richmond Hill, Ga on Thanksgiving Day 2009. We’ve never seen such a beautiful bug here in the Coastal Ga before and wondered if it might be poisonous?

  2. This beautiful Poka Dot Wasp is constantly around the Milkweed plant in my Butterfly Garden in northeast Florida.

  3. Marinell says:

    Several Polka Dot Wasp Moths are seen in my Butterfly Garden.

  4. Chris C says:

    I just photographed one on a palm tree at the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun. Did not know what it was but a google search was successful and led me to this page as well.

  5. Dana says:

    My husband is allergic to wasps. We have these Polka Dot Wasp Moths since we have a bunch of oleander in our backyard. I was wondering if this Wasp Moth was poisonous and stings like regular wasps??

    • bugman says:

      Wasp Moths do not sting. The caterpillars do feed on poisonous oleander leaves and we believe they might retain toxins to help avoid predation, but we cannot confirm that speculation at this time. There is no mention of the caterpillars of the Polka Dot Wasp Moth being poisonous on the otherwise extremely comprehensive account on Featured Creatures.

  6. Heather Kuczer says:

    I just found a polka dot wasp moth. are they rare. can they sting you

  7. Alley says:

    I just saw one in Tampa, FL. North Tampa, if that helps. It freaked me out.

  8. Brother Lance says:

    Saw a massive nest of these critters under the over-hang of an abandoned bldg. here in St. Augustine! Actually very beautiful close up with a beautiful blue body & bright red backside! The black wings look as if someone spattered white paint on them. Never seen one before but I am a native New Yorker and there are certainly some ~curious~ creatures down here in ‘Floriduh’ !!

  9. Patty Denniston says:

    Great site. We just saw one in Ocala, Florida. When i was Young in Miami, Florida, we had a lot of them, but they had red dots on them. Once in awhile they would land on my shoulder or arm and they were just like a butterfly would feel. My husband had never seen one and was surprised that it didn’t sting. Again, Thank you this site

  10. Kathie says:

    This seems to be a site for people who like bugs. We just want to know how to get rid of them! The mud nests of these beautiful creatures fill our portico ceiling and doorway and their cute little wooly worms munch our oleander bush down to bare branches in no time. We’re not really interested in enjoying them as pets but we would like to know if there is an effective way to control them.

  11. Heather says:

    My daughter took photos of one that visits our flowering lantana. It resides above the porch in a corner overhang of the roof. She said it didn’t seem disturbed at all by her presence and it looks striking against the bright yellow flowers! We have never seen this type moth before. We are in Waycross, GA – an area just north of the Okefenokee Swamp and about an hour west of Jekyll Island.

  12. Barbara Johnson says:

    Found one of these in my flower garden today. They are absolutely beautiful. Came on this site to find out what they were. It was very informative I look forward to seeing more

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