Subject: Great northern flag moth
Location: Los Alamos, NM
August 7, 2017 1:52 pm
I found one in New Mexico last night. He appears sick or injured – I found him on the ground looking drunk, making spastic and uncoordinated movements. He’s recovered a bit indoors and I’ll try to release him tonight.
Signature: JLC

Male Northern Giant Flag Moth

Dear JLC,
We are so thrilled to be able to post your gorgeous images of a male Northern Giant Flag Moth.  We were excited to get your comment on our Bug of the Month posting and we are so happy you have provided the image.  It is very interesting to see the undersides of the wing and it appears this species rests in a very “unmothlike” manner with the wings folded above the body like most butterflies rest.  It is very interesting that the images of the female we received last week were the first images of the adult of this species we have ever received in the nearly 20 years we have been writing What’s That Bug?  Perhaps 2017 is a year when their population numbers are higher since insect populations tend to ebb and flow from year to year.

Male Northern Giant Flag Moth

Thanks for the response. Glad to share him. I’ve been in the southwest for twelve years and never seen one before. He is still hanging out in my bathroom and seems improved but not fully functional. Since regaining some coordination he has put his wings away. The display I got may have been a “lucky” result of whatever is ailing him. I’m attaching a few more photos of what he usually looks like at rest. Still beautiful. Any tips on nursing him back to health? I’ve just provided water and a safe place for now.

Northern Giant Flag Moth

Hi again JLC,
Many Arctiids or Tiger Moths, the group that includes
Dysschema howardi, do not feed as adults, but we have not been able to verify that regarding the Northern Giant Flag Moth.  We did located this Project Noah posting that states:  “Absolutely stunning moth. Sadly, this one was on it’s death bed. Wings were were black with yellow patterns and blue dots on hind wings with orange on bottom edge. Abdomen: top is orange. There is a lateral line of blue with a yellow underside. The tip of the abdomen was red. Leg have vivid yellow markings.”  We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your Northern Giant Flag Moth might be at the end of its short life.  Should he expire while in your care, we hope you preserve his as Northern Giant Flag Moths do not seem to be very common, and though we do not condone collecting wild specimens, we imagine some collector would love to have your specimen.

Update:  August 10, 2017
Hi Daniel,
After he died I brought him to the Pajarito Environmental Education Center in Los Alamos NM to be preserved and displayed in their collection. They appreciated the contribution.
Thanks for the advice!
Location: Los Alamos, New Mexico

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