The scarlet-bodied wasp moth is a fascinating creature native to Florida. Boasting a striking appearance, this moth features a bright red thorax and abdomen, along with transparent wings patterned with black. It’s no wonder that this moth stands out in Florida landscapes!
As you learn more about the scarlet-bodied wasp moth, you’ll discover that it goes by the scientific name Cosmosoma myrodora (Dyar). This beautiful insect is not only captivating to look at, but it also plays a role in the local ecosystems where it resides.
In this article, you’ll uncover everything you need to know about this unique moth, from its life cycle to its habitat and behavior. You might even be inspired to spot one of these vibrant insects in the wild yourself! So, let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of the scarlet-bodied wasp moth.
Scarlet-Bodied Wasp Moth Overview
Identification and Features
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth (Cosmosoma myrodora) is a unique and striking insect, known for its vibrant colors and distinguishable features. Some notable characteristics of this moth include:
- Bright red thorax and abdomen
- Transparent wings with black and blue spots
- Clearwing appearance
Due to these distinct features, scarlet-bodied wasp moths are easy for you to recognize among other insects. Its bright colors give it a wasp-like appearance, which serves as an effective defense mechanism against predators.
Distribution and Habitat
As a native insect in Florida, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth can be commonly found in the region’s landscapes. It prefers areas with dog fennel plants, as the males visit them before mating to collect chemicals that provide added protection to the females and their eggs.
The brightly colored moth not only adds a touch of beauty to its surroundings but also plays a role in its ecosystem. Remember to appreciate the scarlet-bodied wasp moth for its unique appearance, as well as the important roles it plays within its habitat.
Family and Species
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth belongs to the Cosmosoma genus, a group of moths under the Erebidae family. Moths in the Cosmosoma genus are known for their vibrant colors and intricate patterns on their wings. They are part of the Arctiinae subfamily, which consists of diverse moth species within the Lepidoptera order, falling under the superclass Arthropoda and class Insecta.
Species Cosmosoma Myrodora
The species we are focusing on is the Cosmosoma myrodora. This moth is native to Florida and is renowned for its striking appearance. Some key features include:
- Bright red thorax and abdomen
- Transparent wings with black patterns
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth is an exquisite example of the diversity and beauty found within the Erebidae family. The moth’s vibrant colors make it stand out in the landscapes it inhabits, and its unique appearance contributes to the intriguing nature of the Cosmosoma genus and the arthropods as a whole.
To summarize, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is a remarkable member of the Erebidae family, specifically within the Arctiinae subfamily. Its vibrant coloration and transparent wings with intricate black patterns make it a truly exceptional specimen in the world of insects.
Predators and Defense Mechanisms
Odor and Warning Colors
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth has a distinct red coloration on its thorax and abdomen, which serves as a warning to predators. Bright colors in insects often signal that they are toxic or unpalatable, deterring would-be attackers. In addition to its vibrant color, this moth also emits a foul odor when threatened, providing another layer of defense against predators.
This moth species has developed an impenetrable envelope, which can help protect it from predators such as spiders. The envelope is made of hardened scales or hairs, which provide a physical barrier that makes it difficult for predators to penetrate and consume the moth successfully.
Scarlet-bodied wasp moths are known to possess toxins that make them dangerous to potential predators. These poisonous compounds deter creatures like birds and lizards from incorporating the moth into their diet.
In summary, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth has multiple defense mechanisms working together to protect it from predators, including:
- Vibrant red warning colors
- Emitting a foul odor when threatened
- An impenetrable envelope made of hardened scales or hairs
- Toxic compounds as a means of deterrence
Lifecycle and Reproduction
Eggs and Larvae
The lifecycle of the scarlet-bodied wasp moth begins with the female laying eggs. Once the eggs are laid, they develop into small larvae. These caterpillars have a unique appearance, sporting distinctive black spines that cover their entire body. As they grow, they feed on host plants to gain energy for their next stage of development. Some examples of host plants they feed on include Climbing Hempvine (Mikania scandens) and Falseteeth (Sicyos angulatus) source.
Pupa and Cocoon
After the larvae have reached their full size, they begin the pupal stage. During this phase, they wrap themselves inside a cocoon made from their own silk and various other materials. Inside the cocoon, the larvae undergo a complete transformation, from a crawling caterpillar to a stunning adult moth with transparent wings and bright red body.
Adult Moths and Mating
Once the transformation is complete, the adult scarlet-bodied wasp moth emerges from the cocoon. Males and females display mating behaviors such as courtship and the release of pheromones to attract a partner. Adult coloration is a key aspect of these moths, with their bright red thorax and abdomen, and transparent wings patterned with black. After mating, the females lay eggs to restart the lifecycle.
Here are some features and characteristics of the scarlet-bodied wasp moth in bullet points:
- Bright red thorax and abdomen
- Transparent wings patterned with black
- Distinctive black spines on larvae
- Feeding on host plants such as Climbing Hempvine and Falseteeth
Remember, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth undergoes a complete metamorphosis throughout its lifecycle, moving from eggs to larvae, followed by the pupa, and finally emerging as a stunning adult. Enjoy observing and learning about these fascinating creatures!
Feeding Habits and Host Plants
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth larvae have a particular appetite for the leaves of plants in the Mikania genus, specifically Mikania scandens and Mikania cordifolia1. These plants, commonly known as climbing hempvine or hempweed, serve as the primary host plants for the moth’s larvae1. As a larva, it actively feeds on these leaves, allowing it to grow and develop.
Here are some features of the host plants preferred by scarlet-bodied wasp moth larvae:
Once the scarlet-bodied wasp moth reaches adulthood, its feeding habits shift from being folivores to primarily consuming nectar from various flowers2. This change in diet provides the moths with the energy they need to fly and reproduce. It’s worth noting that, unlike many other moths, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth is active during the day, which is when you’re most likely to spot them visiting flowers.
You can find this fascinating moth in areas such as:
As the moth continues to feed on nectar, it aids in the process of pollination, helping various plant species reproduce and thrive2.
Significant Studies and References
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is a fascinating native insect with striking colors. One of the best resources to learn about it is from the University of Florida, where they provide detailed information about its appearance, life cycle, and behavior. In this section, we will present significant studies and references related to the moth.
A study by Allison and Mendez (2009) presented photographs of living caterpillars of Cosmosoma myrodora. This helped provide a better understanding of the pre-adult stages of the moth. It’s important to understand these earlier life stages, as they help us appreciate the moth’s full life cycle.
Additionally, the scarlet-bodied wasp moth is known for its unique defense mechanism against predators. A study by Dyer et al. (2012) demonstrated the moth’s adaptive use of bright colors for warning signals and transparent wings for camouflage – an intriguing aspect of the species.
Noteworthy characteristics bullet points:
- Bright red thorax and abdomen
- Transparent wings with black patterns
- Adaptive use of colors for camouflage and warning
|Feature||Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth||Typical Moth|
|Bright Colors||Yes||Usually No|
|Defensive Role||Warning signal, camouflage||Varies|
By exploring these significant studies and resources, you can gain a better understanding of the scarlet-bodied wasp moth and its unique features. The University of Florida and the mentioned research sources are great starting points to dive deeper into the details of this captivating species.
Conservation and Threats
The scarlet-bodied wasp moth (Cosmosoma myrodora) is a fascinating creature to learn about. In this section, we’ll focus on its conservation and the threats it faces.
These moths have several natural enemies in the ecosystem. Predators, like birds and spiders, are attracted to the moth’s bright colors. These predators can impact the moth population, but the moth has a strategy to deter potential predators. When threatened, it releases a chemical that smells unpleasant, making it unpalatable to predators.
Other threats to the scarlet-bodied wasp moths are parasites. Some wasps, like the Braconid wasps, lay their eggs in moth caterpillars, which become parasitized. The wasp larvae then consume the caterpillar from the inside out, eventually killing it.
To protect the scarlet-bodied wasp moth population, it’s essential to understand and conserve their natural habitat. Destruction and fragmentation of their habitat can lead to a decline in their population. Preserving their environment will ensure that these striking creatures continue to enchant us.
Remember, be aware of the stunning scarlet-bodied wasp moth’s unique challenges and be a friend to the environment by supporting conservation efforts. You can make a difference!
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 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
August 20, 2009
Found this moth in house. Red body and legs, black tail with light blue dots.
Thank you Jeanette
Most people who write in requesting and identification of a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, don’t realize it is a moth because it is such a convincing wasp mimic. According to BugGuide: “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.“
Letter 2 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
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.
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. “
Letter 3 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Very red wasp
Location: SW Florida
March 29, 2011 9:40 pm
I found this lovely looking wasp buzzing around my room.
I live in SW Florida, he was spotted as I ducked. Discovered March 27, 2011.
Thank you, very much, bug man. I did help him to escape without harm. Hopefully he is a bug that devours garden eating buggies.
This is not a wasp, but rather a moth that mimics a wasp. It is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, and it is found if Florida primarily, but also west to Texas and north to North Carolina according to BugGuide. BugGuide also notes this interesting 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.”
Thank you, bug man. How interesting. I would never have thought that was a moth. He was beautiful, glad I got his picture. Thank you for your research.
Letter 4 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
WHAT IS THIS RED BUG WITH BLACK LACY WINGS?
We saw this beauty inside our patio and he was content to be photographed until we finally got a the focus right. What is he?
Winter Park, Florida
This beauty is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora. It is a peaceful species that mimics a stinging wasp for protection.
Letter 5 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
red/blue flying dealie
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 at 7:56 PM
This bug flew in through an open window and proceeded to land on my shirt where it stayed for quite some time, alowing me to take a good clean picture of it. Never could quite figure out what kind of bug it was though…
The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora , is a moth species that mimics wasps as a means of survival. Since the harmless moth resembles a stinging wasp, many predators will give leave it alone.
Letter 6 – Scarlet-bodied Wasp-moth
What is this?
These have been visiting the Mistflower booms in our Central Florida butterfly garden. They resemble some type of wasp, but are very calm and content sitting on the same flower cluster 5 to 10 min. before flying to the next plant. What are they & are they sipping nectar? Thanks….Kathryn
Thank you for sending the beautiful photo of a Scarlet-bodied Wasp-moth, Cosmosoma auge. The Family Syntomidae, according to Holland, “are diurnal in their habits, and frequent flowers. At first glance, they often are mistaken for wasps and other hymenoptera, which they mimic.” He continues: “This beautiful little insect occurs throughout the tropics of the New world, and is not rare in southern Florida. … The caterpillar feeds upon Mikania scadens (Climbing Hempweed).” Your Scarlet-bodied Wasp-moths are sipping necter with their long, well developed proboscis. We have also found this moth identified online as Cosmosoma myrodora. Here at What’s That Bug? we try to be taxonomically correct, and the name auge is attributed to Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy. On the other hand, myrodora has been attributed to Dyar in the year 1907.
You not only identified the Scarlet-bodied Wasp-moth, but helped I.D. a wild vine growing on the fence near our orange trees. I saw several of their little caterpillars chewing away last fall but couldn’t identify them or the vine. Thanks to you, we now have a name for another “critter” and it’s host plant . Thanks!
I just wanted you to know that letters like yours were the original reason we began the What’s That Bug? site. We love identifying “bugs” for the genuinely curious. Sadly, it seems most of our readers want to rid their lives of anything that crawls or flies. It would be totally awesome if you could send a photo of the caterpillar on the host plant when they appear again in the fall. We have no idea what the caterpillar looks like. Have a great day.
Letter 7 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
scarlet bodied wasp moth
This moth is a new one for us to see in this area (Louisiana, zone 8 – 8b) I would love to see what the caterpillar looks like. The arrival of this moth may have something to do with our hurricanes this year, but i don’t know.
What a beautiful image of a beautiful moth. The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is most common in Florida, but has been reported in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. The green caterpillar has black hairs and feeds on climbing hempweed. Bugguide has a caterpillar image.
Letter 8 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
I found this beautiful bug on my back porch. I am from SE Louisiana. Do you know what it is?
This beauty is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth.
Letter 9 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
I live in Mobile, AL near the bay. I found this beautiful creature tasting the nector of one of my native lantana’s. What is he? Thanks!
This is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora. Wasps sting and moths do not, so many moths have adapted protective coloration, appearance and habits of wasps, and by mimicing them, are afforded some protection in the “eat or be eaten” world they inhabit.
Letter 10 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
We saw this in Soberania National Park in Panama. I believe I’ve got it down to it being a Clearwing Moth (though I certainly can’t be sure). It was seen mid-August. Looking forward to any identification help you can offer.
This looks very similar to the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora. It might be a closely related species or it might be the same species, but with a slight variation in the body coloration due to a variation within a local population. According to BugGuide, the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth is found in the Southern States.
Letter 11 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
what in the world is this?
i am so curious about this bug! i live in southern louisiana and i noticed it sitting on some wild flowers, so i ran inside to get my camera, and it sat there the whole time while i took pictures. is it a wasp?…or a moth? i’ve done research online to see if i could find something resembling it, and i found some clear-winged moths that were similar, but nothing in this striking red and blue. (and it has a fuzzy texture to it, too) any info would be appreciated. thanks so much!
The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is a very effective wasp mimic.
Letter 12 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Do you know what species this is?
I found your website as I was trying to identify this clearwing moth. I know that it’s in Family Sesiidae, but I was unable to find the genus and species for it. Do you know what it is? I live in Grand Bay, Alabama, just west of Mobile. Thank you for your help.
Your moth is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, and it is in the family Arctiidae, not Sesiidae.
Letter 13 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
??? fly, wasp, aphid, red firefly; It has a red thorax. Redish orang legs. 2 black lacelike wings, and a black body with irradescent blue markings.
December 24, 2009
I would like to know what this beautiful bug I saw hovering around my Buddleia is. We live in an area with a wide assortment of bugs, many of which I can easily identify, but this one had me stumped. I took this picture the first week of November. Sometimes hurricanes blow in strange things, so I wasn’t sure if this one just drifted in from a storm. I first noticed it hovering around my window, going up and down like a wasp or carpenter bee might. When I went outside I saw it had discovered my butterfly bush and it crawled and poked at every single blossom. I wasn’t sure if it was after other bugs or just enjoying the nectar. It’s bright and vivid colors were quite astounding.
Saint Francisville, Louisiana
Your confusion is understandable. This is a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth which derives protection from predators by mimicking a stinging wasp, though the moth is perfectly harmless.
Letter 14 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Any idea what this is
February 27, 2011 7:22 pm
Hi there, any chance you might know what this is? It was found in a garage in Florida 2 days ago.
You found a Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth which avoids predation by mimicking a stinging insect.
Letter 15 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Subject: Flying Insect
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
June 20, 2013 3:09 pm
I saw this on the back porch. Never seen one before, can you identify it?
Signature: Brian B
Though it resembles a wasp, the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, Cosmosoma myrodora, is quite harmless.
Letter 16 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Subject: What type of insect?
Location: South mississippi
November 13, 2013 1:26 pm
I found an insect in my yard, I live in south Mississippi and have never seen one before. It has a red body, red legs, black antennas with white tips, and bright or royal blue spots on top of its abdomen, the wings are outlined in black with two clear spots on them.
Signature: Thanks, Dustin
This Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth is a harmless insect that mimics a potentially dangerous, stinging Wasp.
Letter 17 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Subject: This flew into our garage
Location: Southeast texas
September 25, 2015 6:55 pm
What kind of bug is this
Though it mimics a stinging wasp, the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth is perfectly harmless.
Letter 18 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Subject: red moth
Location: St. francisville, La.
November 15, 2015 10:11 am
Photographed (on glass) 11-12-15 at St. Francisville, La. 70775
Congratulations on actually recognizing this as a moth. The Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth is a very effective mimic of a stinging insect, which helps it to avoid being eaten by some predators.
Letter 19 – Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth
Subject: Looks like Oleander Moth
Geographic location of the bug: Clearwater Florida
Time: 06:26 PM EDT
Hi Bugman! I saw this Beautiful Moth? that looks like a Oleander Moth but it has translucent wings. Would it be possible for you to identify this bug for me. I think the colors are beautiful. Thanks Again Very Much!!! Have a Great One! Brent Hansen
How you want your letter signed: Brent Hansen Clearwater Florida
Letter 20 – Scarlet Tipped Wasp Moth from Panama
Subject: Crimson bug species? Panama fauna!
Geographic location of the bug: San Miguelito, Panama.
Time: 05:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi bugman. I’ve only seen this bug twice in my life 3 years appart first in 2009 and then in 2012. Both times it was just standing still inside my house and both insects were identical. Back then there were a lot of jungle-like green areas around my house for context. This bug was about 5cm / 2 inches long, had “feathery” antennae, transparent wings, the most posterior part of the abdomen was “hairy” (i think the sides of the abdomen were hairy too but less hairy) and I confirmed it was capable of flight as I accidentaly startled it when I was taking the photo. Well as you can see most of the body is colored with (really strong) red and black. The thorax has two parallel white lines. I never saw the ventral part of the insect.
Is this a moth? A butterfly? This question has been haunting me for 10 years. Well thanks and have fun with this one!
PS:Sorry if I used wrong terms in my anatomical description.
How you want your letter signed: A curious physician
Dear curious physician,
We are impressed that you identified this as a moth or butterfly. It is a Moth, but one that is often mistaken for a wasp. It is a Scarlet Tipped Wasp Moth, Dinia aeagrus, and we identified it on Project Noah. You can also find it pictured on FlickR.