Location: Los Angeles, CA
October 19, 2010 12:34 am
This little lady (or man) has been stationary for several days now on the outside of our house. I would normally think a bug that hasn’t moved for 4 days with such death grip is well, dead, but there are babies to protect, so I’m not quite sure. She’s a beauty! Any idea what she is?
It is the right time of year with the correct weather conditions for the Painted Tiger Moths, Arachnis picta, to be flying, mating and laying eggs. One was perched for several days on the door jamb of our Mt. Washington, Los Angeles offices for several days and she finally dropped dead without laying eggs. A pair was spotted this morning on the fence post near the chicken coop and they were in the act of mating, and this evening, there was a female depositing eggs on the front porch beneath the porch light. Nearly every year a female lays eggs under the porch light. After a week or so, depending upon the temperature, the eggs will hatch into tiny fuzzy caterpillars that will disperse and begin feeding on many weedy type plants that sprout after the first rains. The caterpillars are a typical Woolly Bear. Adult Painted Tiger Moths do not feed as adults. According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin: “The mature larva is about 1 1/2 inches (40 mm) long and is densely covered with stiff black hairs; The head is black. The caterpillar feeds nocturnally on a great variety of weedy plants, including wild radish, Wandering Jew, and Acanthus. It hides during the day, sometimes retreating into the soil, and it rolls into a ball when disturbed, It develops during the winter and then is somewhat dormant (although active, it does little feeding) until late the following summer, when it pupates; on a warm fall evening, the adult emerges. Individual caterpillars occasionally pupate immediately after maturing and pass the summer in the pupal stage.”