What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is this moth?
Location: Montana
July 18, 2011 12:21 pm
What is this moth? Thanks for your help
Signature: Laurie

Great Tiger Moth

Hi Lauri,
Your moth is
Arctia caja, and in North America it is commonly called the Great Tiger Moth, however in Europe where it is also found, it is commonly called the Garden Tiger Moth.  BugGuide has these remarks:  “This species, formerly common throughout the UK, has steadily declined over the past 20 years, with numbers falling by around 30%. There has been a general movement away from the south and toward the north, with climate change believed to be a contributing factor. Warm, wet winters and warm springs are followed by a decrease in the number of tiger moths the following summer (Conrad et al, 2002). Arctia caja was a favourite with early European collectors, who selectively bred it to create unusual colours and forms.”

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

4 Responses to Great Tiger Moth

  1. Dave says:

    The caterpillar of this species is edible — though it’s somewhat surprising, considering their hairiness. There’s a citation of the North American consumption of this species in De Foliart’s classic [but possibly no longer definitive] annotated bibliography/compendium.


    • bugman says:

      Hi Dave,
      We will tag this as edible, though the thought of picking all those hairs from between our teeth does not make eating one of the Woolly Bears all that appetizing.

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Good point. I know that various hairy [and therefore seemingly undesirable] caterpillars are eaten around the world; often there is documentation that the consumers will burn away the insects’ bristles, setea, etc., by rolling them in hot ash at a campfire.

    Your observation motivated me to check out my source, namely:


    Here’s what it says:

    Powers, S. 1877a. Tribes of California. Contributions to North American Ethnology, Vol. III. U.S. Geograph. & Geol. Surv. of Rocky Mtn. Region, Dept. Interior, pp. 379, 430-431.

    Powers (p. 379) says of the Yokuts of California:

    Powers lists (pp. 430-431) a number of insects among the animal foods of the Nishinam of Pacer County, California: Shek (Saturnia caeanothi [Hyalophora euryalis =]), caterpillar; Shek (two species of Arctia), caterpillar; Hol’-lih, crickets, roasted (formerly they were often roasted in large numbers by firing the woods); Pan’-nak, grubs found in decayed oak trees; Kut (Sphinx ludoviciana), a horned black worm (the Indian name denotes “a buck,” so-called because of the horn). En’neh, or grasshoppers, are eaten by the Konkau. They catch them with nets, or by driving them into pits, then roast them and reduce them to powder for preservation.

  3. Hohmann says:

    At my home, Frankfurt (Germany),
    the great tiger moth is common.
    But it is declining in the last years, because many individuans ended on the street lamps

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