Io Moth Mimics Owl

Subject: Moth
Location: Central PA
July 12, 2014 9:00 am
I live in central PA and found this moth that looks like an owl…I would love to know the name of it!
Signature: Ricki Light

Io Moth
Io Moth

Hi Ricki,
Owls are top of the foodchain predators, and if you think about it, the ability to mimic an owl would be a very effective defense mechanism, especially creatures who are preyed upon by creatures that might be prey to owls.  There are several moths that very effectively mimic the face of an owl through the evolution of false eyespots known as ocelli.  The male Io Moth in your image is one such North American moth.  Female Io Moths are very effective owl mimics as well, but female Io Moths are brown instead of yellow and they are even larger than the males, a textbook example of sexual dimorphism.  Another good North American Owl Mimic is the Polyphemus Moth.  Both Io Moths and Polyphemus Moths hide their ocelli while at rest, but if they are disturbed, they quickly “open” their eyes, potentially frightening off any threatening creature.   

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