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

Dear 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!

Hi Kathryn,
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.

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