Black and White Moth
July 13, 2009
This black and white moth was on our window at night, attracted to the light.
Jocotepec, JAL, Mexico
Thanks for writing back and providing a location. Though it resembles the Giant Leopard Moth of the U.S., this is a distinct species. Its legs are quite distinctive. Though we believe it is a Tiger Moth, we aren’t certain. We will contact Arctiid expert Julian Donahue to see if he can identify your moth.
Update from Julian Donahue
Mistaking this moth for a tiger moth is a common one–it has even fooled professional collectors from whom I used to purchase Mexican tiger moths for the Museum (consequently, we have a lot of them in the collection!). (ed. Note: Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History)
The moth is in the Noctuidae (to which the tiger moths have been recently relegated as a subfamily: Arctiinae), in the subfamily Pantheinae. It is in the genus Lichnoptera, and its crisp black markings on a white ground make it very similar to Lichnoptera decora, the only member of the genus that occurs in the United States. Poole’s catalog of the world Noctuidae has 15 species of Lichnoptera, all but decora described from Mexico and various countries in Central and South America–and most of these are not as boldly marked as decora (I’m fairly certain that decora also occurs in Mexico). The larvae of L. decora have been reported feeding on apricot.
Julian P. Donahue
I believe this is an Owlet Moth (Noctuidae); subfamily Pantheinae. It looks very similar to Lichnoptera decora, a species that also occurs in the southwestern USA, but it is virtually identical to photos of L. cavillator in my copy of “Butterflies and Moths of Costa Rica” (Chacon and Montero). Anyway, I believe Lichnoptera is the genus. Regards.