What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Beautiful Winged ?????
Location: South Florida
October 25, 2014 3:20 pm
Earlier today I discovered, thanks to your website, that the white weevils that have been eating our Blackbead, Bay Cedar and Hollies are non-native beetles from Sri Lanka. So when I was out watering this afternoon and saw this beautiful winged insect that I could not identify I immediately thought of your site.
It is very deep, somewhat iridescent blue with white spots on most of its body including underside and legs. It is bright red back at the end of its abdomen. The wing span appears to be about 1.75″ and it is sitting on my desert rose plant in South Florida, in Broward county.
Signature: OutGardening

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

Polka Dot Wasp Moth

Dear OutGardening,
The Polka Dot Wasp Moth really is a pretty insect.  Its caterpillars feed on oleander.

Thank you very much Daniel! I would never have guessed it is a moth!
Gina

Hi again Gina,
Most people assume that all moths are small, dull colored, nocturnal creatures that eat clothes.  This diurnal Polka Dot Wasp Moth is brightly colored, and the species is also a very effective wasp mimic which provides it some protection against predators.

Hi Daniel,
From its wing shape and the iridescence color it reminded me of a dragonfly although when I first saw just the flash of white spots and red color I was excited thinking I had another atala butterfly. I’ve been hoping that our coonties would attract more atalas but so far have only seen one. But this moth is quite exciting and beautiful to watch in the garden, although I may not leave all her eggs on my little lone desert rose.
I’ve learned since starting our butterfly and native garden a few years ago, that there is such a variety of moths and that they seem to overlap in appearance and characteristics with the butterflies. Many butterflies I’m meeting in the garden appear more like what I used to think of as moths. It’s been an exciting journey into gardening, learning not only about native/invasive plants but the birds, butterflies and now into bugs! Today I was out picking the Sri Lanka weevils off some of our plants that have been so badly eaten by them, after learning from your site what those little white bugs were.
Thanks for providing a great resource and website! And your personal replies!
Gina

Thanks for your followup information Gina.  We did not know what an “atalas” was and upon looking it up on BugGuide, we learned that Eumaeus atala, the Atala Hairstreak, is endangered and it has caterpillars that feed on a native cycad known as a “coontie”.  Thanks so much for the education.  We hope you are able to provide us with an image of an Atala Hairstreak soon.  We are thrilled that you are learning about the interconnectivity of life forms, both plant and animal, in an ecosystem.

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