Subject: Beautiful Moth in New Mexico
Location: Roswell, NM Chavez County
July 30, 2017 10:56 am
My daughter and I found this beautiful moth at the base of a trashcan at a gas station in Roswell, NM. It just goes to show you can find beautiful things in the most unlikely places. We picked it up and took it a ways down the road and released in some trees. I have experience with silk moths, but this one had a proboscis. I was thinking a type of sphinx moth, but the body didn’t look right. Anyway, Google has let me down and I need help. Thanks for taking a look!
Signature: Trina W
We are especially happy we wrote back to you to notify you there were no images. Though we immediately recognized this as a Tiger Moth, we needed to identify the species and we found the Northern Giant Flag Moth, Dysschema howardi, pictured on the Moth Photographers Group, and we verified its identity on BugGuide were we learned that only females have orange underwings, meaning your individual is a female. We also learned on BugGuide that this is the only member of the genus found north of Mexico: “1 sp. n. of Mex. (a second sp. may have strayed once from Mexico). There are some 90(!) species of Dysschema, mostly in South America.” The species is also pictured on the Butterflies and Moths of North America site. Though we have a single posting of the caterpillar of the Northern Giant Flag Moth, your submission is the only image we have in our archives of an adult.
Ed. Note: This is one of the most beautiful North American moths that has ever been submitted to our site. It is so incredibly delicate in pattern that we could not resist making it the Bug of the Month for August 2017. According to BugGuide: “‘Flag Moth’ is a common name coined for the subfamily Pericopinae by Hogue (1993).” So, in a feeble attempt on the part of our editorial staff to explain the common name, this would be the northernmost ranging species in a genus in the Flag Moth subfamily Pericopinae recognized by Charles L. Hogue.