Eyed Tiger Moth Caterpillar And Life Cycle

We cover the eyed tiger moth, its lifecycle, and everything you need to know about it in the article below.

There are around 11000 species of tiger moths in the world. These creatures are fascinating as they have a mixed reputation for being dangerous and gentle. 

Yes, some of the insects are poisonous, while some of them are completely harmless and non-aggressive. 

Both their caterpillars and the moths themselves are quite fascinating to watch, but are they okay to touch?

In this article, we will discuss in which category the eyed tiger moth belongs.

Scientific Classification Table 

FamilyErebidae, also belong to the Order Lepidoptera
IdentificationWhite bodies with regular black and white spots. Black and white legs
SizeFemale 3-8 inches, males 2 inches
Wingspan Size3 inches
RangeFound in various regions of the US, Mexico, Columbia, and other South American regions
Lifespan6-10 days as adults
Life CycleEggs, caterpillars, pupae, adult-eyed tiger moths
DietPlants like dandelions, lettuce, citrus, and more
Conservation StatusNot evaluated (available in large numbers)
Other Common NamesThe giant leopard moth, Hypercompe Scribonia

What Does Eyed Tiger Moth Look Like?

Eyed tiger moths are also commonly known as giant leopard moths. These moths are huge in size and are known for their unique black spots on their white bodies. 

Some of these black spots have a white center in them, and the rest are entirely back. 

Also, if you look closely, you will notice the underside of the abdomen is white, and the dorsal side is blue. 

These insects are nocturnal, and they love to be around garden plants. Eyed tiger moth larvae have black bodies with unique red bands. 

These bands are clearly visible when the larvae curl into a ball. At other times the rings are hidden by the black bristles on the body. 

eyed tiger moth

Eyed Tiger Moth Size-How Big Does Eyed Tiger Moth Get?

As mentioned above, eyed tiger moths are massive in size, especially females. A female-eyed tiger moth can easily grow up to 3-8 inches in length. 

On the other hand, the males are much smaller and can grow up to 2 inches in length. 

Also, these moths have enormous wings; the wingspan of an average healthy, eyed tiger moth can be around 3 inches. 

The moth larvae show an average size of 2-3 inches. However, larval growth entirely depends on the nutrition they receive. 

Eyed Tiger Moth Moth Lifespan-How Long Does Eyed Tiger Moth Live?

Like most species of tiger moths, eyed tiger moth adults don’t survive for long. On average, an adult can live up to 6-10 days in the wild. 

The time period can be even shorter if potential predators like lizards, birds, and other insects attack them. 

They the winters under the cocoon as pupae before coming out when the surroundings are warmer. The caterpillar can live and feed for up to three years before emerging as a flying adult. 

Eyed Tiger Moth Life Cycle 

Egg Laying

After mating, the female giant leopard moth searches for a warm and humid spot to lay eggs. 

The ideal location is one with plenty of food available nearby. Host plants are the primary source of nutrition for larvae.

You will be fascinated to know that the eggs get fertilized in the female body itself. After laying the eggs in a secure place, the female dies. 

eyed tiger moth

Larval Stage

Food plants are one of the most significant sources of nutrition for larvae to grow. 

It takes approximately ten days for the eggs to hatch. The shift in climatic conditions can alter the time frame. 

On hatching, these caterpillars immediately eat up the shell from which they emerge. Consuming it gives a great headstart to newborns to stay healthy throughout the larval stage. 

The shell contains a lot of proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients which the caterpillar needs to survive, develop, and grow. 

The eyed tiger moth caterpillars eat a lot of plant matter to grow into big healthy adults. 

They love eating pigweed, dandelions, lettuce, and other garden plants. Fascinatingly, the eyed tiger moth larvae can eat around 2700 times their own weight.


During the winter, these caterpillars go into hibernation for a while to survive the cold. Once they are grown enough, they leave the host plant to find a secure spot that is humid and warm. 

Adult Moths

It takes around 5-21 days for the caterpillar to come out of the pupa as an adult. Since the moth is delicate as adults, it takes time for them to break past the cocoon. On coming out, these insects are wet and are unable to fly directly. 

Where Is Eyed Tiger Moth Found & Their Range?

There are around 11,000 species of tiger moths scattered across the globe. The giant leopard moth likes to stay in warm and humid places. 

They frequently visit forest ranges that have abundant host plants for them to feed on. 

They also prefer laying eggs in such locations. Apart from that, you will also spot them in public areas, farms, woodlands, gardens, and other public areas. 

The Eyed tiger moth is a common moth in various regions of the United States. You can find them in New England, Mexico, Columbia, and other parts of South America. 

What Do Eyed Tiger Moths Eat? 

Since adults don’t live for long, they don’t consume a lot of food. Most tiger moths rely on nectar to survive as adults. 

As we mentioned earlier, the eyed tiger moth adults don’t live for long. Hence, they, too, follow the same diet pattern. 

However, caterpillars are monsters when it comes to eating. These fuzzy larvae start feeding from the moment they hatch from the eggs. In fact, they even consume shells from which they emerge. 

Other than that, they love to eat plants with broad leaves including magnolia, lilac, pigweed, dandelions, citrus, violets, honeysuckles, and broadleaf plantains. 

These caterpillars need to feed well before hibernating for the winter. 

Are Eyed Tiger Moths Poisonous?

Due to their similar appearance, people often consider the eyed tiger moth caterpillars to be woolly worms. 

Some of these woolly worms are toxic in nature, which is why people are scared of them. As they look similar, people consider eyed tiger moth larvae to poisonous as well. 

This notion is entirely wrong; the caterpillars are not toxic. 

You can identify these caterpillars by the unique red rings on their bodies that are usually hidden by the black bristles covering them. 

Also, these insects are unable to bite and possess no stingers. 

Do Eyed Tiger Moths Bite? 

As mentioned in the section above, eyed tiger moths don’t bite. These insects also don’t have a stinger to attack humans or other predators. 

We can safely conclude that these moths are harmless to humans. The only threat is when one touches the caterpillar without proper safety equipment. 

The bristles on their body can cause mild rashes, but it is nothing too serious to be worried about. 

Giant Leopard Moth

Whenever the caterpillar sense danger, they curl up into a ball. This points the sharp bristles right at the predators causing them to back off. 

Also, these insects are not all aggressive towards humans and pets. 

How To Attract Eyed Tiger Moth 

Different species of tiger moths are highly attracted to light. You might have seen moths swarming around a light source. 

Hence you can set up a bright porch light near your garden to attract these moths. Since they are nocturnal, they instantly notice it in the dark and start flying toward it. 

Also, they won’t cause any significant harm to the crops in your garden as they rarely swarm around plants. 

You can start planting trees and plants that these insects love to eat. Here is a small list of the plants that will work great to attract these insects:

Paper birch, sweetgum, American beech, hickory, red maple, persimmon,  smooth sumac, American chestnut, black walnut, white oak, and willow.

One of the main things to keep in mind is these insects avoid coming to places that are filled with potential predators like lizards, hornets, and wasps. 

Keep an eye out for such predators if you want the eyed tiger moths to come to your garden. 

Eyed Tiger Moth Meaning 

Insects are often linked with a lot of spiritual beliefs across different cultures. 

For example, stag beetles and ladybugs hold immense spiritual value in various communities across the world. Similarly, the moths also have different spiritual meanings attached to them.

Some cultures believe that spotting a moth is a signal that one needs to seek and embrace the inner light in their soul. 

This is because of the observation that moths often gather and fly toward light sources in the dark. Hence, it is a sign that one should get out of the darkness and start flying toward the light. 

Newly Eclosed Eyed Tiger Moth

There is a different meaning to this practice as well. As the moths get easily attracted to the light, people use it as a lesson to not stand too close to the fire. 

Here the glow is considered a seductive source, and the moth flying to the light gives a lesson that we should not be tempted too easily towards certain attractive things. It teaches us to be rational. 

Also, many cultures consider white moths to be a sign of innocence, purity, and kindness. 

Since they are gentle and non-aggressive, it can be a reminder to always be sensitive and kind towards others. 

Eyed Tiger Moth Facts 

Apart from all the information given above, there are some more fascinating things about the giant leopard moth that are unknown to many. Here are a few of them: 

  • After an adult giant leopard moth emerges from the pupa, they are entirely wet, which is why it must spread its wings before they dry. If this process is carried out properly, the insect won’t be able to fly. 
  • Eyed tiger moths look a little similar to agreeable tiger moths. However, if you look closely, the bodies of these insects have much more spots than the agreeable tiger moths. 
  • It is not easy for adult moths to come out of the cocoon. It takes a while to emerge from it. This happens because the insect is fragile and soft to break past the layers of the pupae. 
  • When the adult moth emerges from the pupa, it will have 
  • When the moth first emerges from the cocoon, it will have shriveled wings and a bloated stomach. This is also one of the reasons why it can fly as soon as it comes out. 
  • Woolly bear caterpillars also grow up as tiger moths. These caterpillars are known for the thick coat of bristles on its body. People love to watch and keep them as pets due to their appearance. 
  • During the pupal stage, a lot of waste is produced inside the pupae when the transformation is going on. The waste comes out as a red slimy liquid called meconium
  • Eyed tiger moths are fragile. Touching and grabbing them will probably end up killing the insects. Which is why it is not advisable to touch these insects.
  • These moths don’t live for long; they usually die within a week. But under some rare circumstances, they can live up to 9-10 months

Eyed Tiger Moth Lamar

How To Get Rid Of Eyed Tiger Moth? 

As mentioned throughout this article, eyes tiger moths are harmless, and having them around won’t cause many problems. 

But, the sight of these insects swarming around your house is not pretty. 

You can drive them out by using vinegar. Vinegar is a great repellent for tiger moths. Spray in on the spot where they usually show up, and you are done. 

Also, there is no need to get rid of plants that these insects love. They won’t cause any significant damage. 

Just leave them be for a few days, and they will die quickly. Adding a few lizards in your garden can help, as these species will hunt down the moths in no time. 

Also, keep the usage of lights in check. These insects are highly attracted to lights, and since they are nocturnal, they can easily spot a glowing source from a distance. 

Adjust the brightness of the porch lights and keep the windows and curtains closed after dark to prevent them from entering your home. 

You can use pepper or garlic solution to kill woolly bear caterpillars. Doing so will ensure that they don’t grow up as moths. 

Prepare a mixture of garlic, pepper, and water. Put it in a spray bottle and carefully sprinkle it on the caterpillars. This solution will directly kill the woolly bears. 

Also, since the caterpillar search for warm spots to hibernate for the winter, it is essential that you keep the garden clean. 

A dirty garden will have unattended logs and debris, which are ideal for the woolly bears to hibernate. Get rid of the debris immediately and clean the surroundings regularly. 

Eyed Tiger Moth

Wrap Up

We hope the information given in this article will be useful to identify eyed tiger moths. Also, remember to not touch these insects as they are highly fragile and a little force can kill them. 

They are not aggressive, nor are they poisonous, but it’s best to watch them only from a distance due to this reason.

Thank you for reading the article. 

Reader Emails

Please go through our collection of letters in the past from some of our readers, detailing eyed tiger moths and their exploits.

These spotted white critters are an amazing sight to watch in real life! But we hope the pictures below will help sate your curiosity about them.

Reader Emails


Letter 1 – Mating Eyed Tiger Moths


what bug is this Location: Midland mi June 24, 2011 2:33 pm My friend has this bug living in their porch.Do you know what it is? Signature: David Schmidt
Mating Eyed Tiger Moths
Hi David, These are mating Eyed Tiger Moths also known as Great Leopard Moths.

Letter 2 – Eyed Tiger Moth Laying Eggs


Subject: Moth laying eggs Location: Spring Hill, Florida February 22, 2015 10:53 am My friend sent me this interesting photo of a beautiful moth laying eggs on her car cover. I have tried Google and the only thing I can find close to it is the Leopard moth.. but I am confused because this moth has red.. and I can not find any moth that looks like this at all? Signature: Tina
Eyed Tiger Moth laying Eggs
Eyed Tiger Moth laying Eggs
Dear Tina, Your identification of a Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scribonia, is correct, and the species is also known as an Eyed Tiger Moth.  The reddish mark on the thorax is an area where the scales have worn away, revealing the exoskeleton.  Here is an image from BugGuide of an individual with a similar bare spot on the thorax.

Letter 3 – Newly Eclosed Eyed Tiger Moth


Subject:  Weird bug on fence Geographic location of the bug:  Florida Date: 01/25/2018 Time: 07:49 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hello! So I found this big guy on my fence. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The top half looks like an owlet moth….I’m not sure what the bottom half looks like. I’ve tried doing searches, but I can’t find anything. Even tried to search for the life cycle of the owlet, but that doesn’t yield anything, either. It was about 2″ long and about as big around as a pinky finger. It stayed on the fence nearly all day. How you want your letter signed:  Cher Lewis
Newly Eclosed Eyed Tiger Moth
Dear Cher, This is a newly eclosed Eyed Tiger Moth or Giant Leopard Moth.  Eclosion is the process of emerging from the pupal state, so this individual’s wings have not yet expanded allowing it to fly, a process that might take several additional hours.  Insects are most vulnerable during the process of metamorphosis.
Newly Eclosed Eyed Tiger Moth

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Giant Leopard Moth or Eyed Tiger Moth


Unidentifiable Moth
Attached is a picture of a moth ( I am assuming a moth) that was on my pressure treated retaining wall. I live in Southeastern Pa. I can’t find any pictures in any books or websites. Any ideas?
Thank you,
Deb Broyles

Hi Deb,
If you had checked out our Moth pages, you could have found several photos of the Giant Leopard Moth or Eyed Tiger Moth, Hypercompe scribonia.


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    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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