Red & Blue insect, unidentified?
Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 7:14 PM
The attached pic was taken just outside a cypress dome at Myakka River State Park. I’m a park ranger in Florida at a different park and want to know what this guy is for my files. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
B. Logan
Central FL

Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

Hi B,
This is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora.  As its name indicates, it is a moth that mimics a wasp for protection.  BugGuide provides this interesting bit of information:  “These moths display warning coloration, yet the caterpillars host on non-toxic Climbing Hempweed, Mikania scandens, (family Asteraceae), a weedy vine at field margins and roadsides that can completely obscure bushes and small trees. The adult male moth extracts toxins known as “pyrrolizidine alkaloids” from Dogfennel Eupatorium (Eupatorium capillifolium) and showers these toxins over the female prior to mating. This is the only insect known to transfer a chemical defense in this way. “

4 Responses to Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth

  1. Betty Fritch says:

    Last year I was sitting in a chair on the front lawn under a tree and a bird-like creature was flying toward me, making a noise as it flew. Red with black wings. Someone at farmer’s mkt selling plants said it might have been a hummingbird moth. It seemed to be humming bird size or maybe a little smaller. Can’t find one that is red with black. Resembles Scarlet-bodied wasp moth in color, but they seem to be smaller? Could it have been a small hummingbird moth? If they come in bright red.

    It seemed to be going to land on me and since I didn’t know what it was I started waving a paper. Didn’t see where it went to get a close up.

    • bugman says:

      We don’t have enough information to be able to provide you with a response as many insects have limited ranges of distribution and you provided no location. Also we are very reluctant to provide identifications without images.

  2. Barbara says:

    I saw one of these visiting the blossoms on my Meyer lemon tree today and was wondering if they are considered beneficials (will help with pollination) or harmful pests (damage the young fruits). I live in the Savannah area and all the posts I read seem to be centered in Florida. BTW, everything loves the lemon tree!

    • bugman says:

      The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth will not harm your meyer lemon and it probably does aid in pollination. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on Climbing Hempweed, Mikania scandens, a twining vine in the daisy family (Asteraceae).”

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