Essential Facts About Spotted Apatelodes: A Quick Guide

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The Spotted Apatelodes is a fascinating moth species that you might come across while exploring the great outdoors. Known scientifically as Apatelodes torrefacta, this furry-looking creature features intricate, spotted patterns along its wings, capturing the attention of both naturalists and casual observers alike.

As you delve further into the world of these unique moths, it’s important to note their distinctive features. Sporting mostly brown shades with white spots scattered across their wings, Spotted Apatelodes stand out from other members of the Apatelodes family. Meanwhile, their furry bodies add an endearing touch to their overall appearance.

By understanding the characteristics of the Spotted Apatelodes, you can better appreciate the role they play in ecosystems and the unique value they bring to the world of moths. So go ahead and immerse yourself in the captivating world of these beautiful creatures.

Classification and Scientific Name

Taxonomic Hierarchy

The Spotted Apatelodes, scientifically known as Apatelodes torrefacta, belongs to the Animalia kingdom. It is classified under the phylum Arthropoda, which encompasses insects, spiders, and crustaceans. The moth falls under the class Insecta and the order Lepidoptera, sharing this taxon with butterflies.

Here is a brief taxonomic hierarchy of the Spotted Apatelodes:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Apatelodidae
  • Genus: Apatelodes
  • Species: Apatelodes torrefacta

Scientific Synonyms

The Spotted Apatelodes is also classified under the family Apatelodidae and the genus Apatelodes. It is important to note that there are no known scientific synonyms for this species. However, the genus Apatelodes comprises more than half of the known species in the Apatelodidae family.

Physical Attributes

Notable Features

The Spotted Apatelodes is a remarkable moth that stands out due to its distinct characteristics. Its hairy body is covered in a combination of black hairs and neon yellow, creating a unique and vibrant appearance. The forewings have a bright pattern that adds to its attractiveness.

Size and Colors

The size of Spotted Apatelodes varies, but they typically have a wingspan around 3 to 4 inches. As mentioned earlier, the moth is well-known for its striking coloration, which includes the following features:

  • A mix of black and neon yellow hairs on its hairy body
  • Bright patterns on its forewings

Keeping these physical attributes in mind, it’s easy to be captivated by the Spotted Apatelodes moth. Remember to admire these fascinating creatures from a respectful distance, as you enjoy their presence in their natural habitat.

Distribution and Habitat

Geographical Range

The Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta) moth is a species native to North America. Its distribution spans from the northeastern United States to southeastern Canada, reaching as far as Maine and Ontario. The moth’s range extends southward, including states like Florida and Texas, and even reaching parts of Mexico.

Typical Habitat

Spotted Apatelodes call deciduous forests their home. These forests are characterized by trees that shed their leaves in the fall. You are likely to come across these moths in wooded areas with a mix of deciduous trees, as they provide ideal shelter and food for the larvae. Some common trees found in their habitat include oaks, maples, and hickory, often providing ample resources for the moth population.

Additionally, these moths are commonly attracted to light sources, making them easier to spot during nighttime hours. So, when exploring a deciduous forest during dusk or at night, don’t be surprised to find a Spotted Apatelodes fluttering by a nearby light.

Life Cycle and Generations

Stages of Development

The spotted apatelodes is a unique moth species with an interesting life cycle. The four main stages of development include egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Egg: The life cycle begins with the female moth laying her eggs on the leaves of host plants. These eggs are typically small and spherical in shape.

Larva: As the eggs hatch, caterpillars emerge, starting the larval stage. During this phase, the spotted apatelodes caterpillars feed on the leaves and grow in size through different instars.

Pupa: After reaching their full size, the caterpillars form a protective cocoon around themselves, transitioning into the pupal stage. Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar transforms into a moth.

Adult: Once the metamorphosis is complete, the adult moth emerges from the cocoon and starts looking for a mate to reproduce and continue the cycle.

Season and Generations

Spotted apatelodes moths typically have one generation per year. The specific timing of these life stages depends on the region and climate.

  • In warmer climates, eggs are laid in late spring, and adult moths emerge in summer.
  • In cooler climates, eggs are laid later in the season, and adult moths may not emerge until early fall.

Due to their unique life cycle and fascinating stages of development, spotted apatelodes moths are a captivating species to observe and study.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Caterpillar Diet

The Spotted Apatelodes caterpillar mainly feeds on the leaves of various deciduous trees. For instance, they can be found munching on the leaves of:

  • Oak trees: Oak leaves are a favorite among caterpillars due to their nutritional value.
  • Maple trees: Another popular choice, maple leaves are rich in nutrients, too.
  • Cherry trees: The caterpillar enjoys cherry tree leaves as well, benefiting from the fruit’s rich nutrients.

You might notice the caterpillar has variety in its diet, allowing it to thrive in different environments with diverse tree species.

Adult Moth Diet

As an Adult Moth, the Spotted Apatelodes changes its feeding habits. Instead of leaves, it now prefers:

  • Floral nectar: Adult moths seek out flowers to feed on the sweet nectar, giving them much-needed energy.
  • Tree sap: Another source of sustenance for the moth, tree sap provides nutrients and sugars for nourishment.
Life Stage Diet
Caterpillar Oak, Maple, and Cherry leaves
Adult Moth Floral nectar and tree sap

Remember to be mindful of the Spotted Apatelodes’ feeding habits when observing them in nature, as their diet differs between life stages.

Identification Guide

Caterpillars Identification

Spotted Apatelodes caterpillars belong to the phylum Arthropoda, under the class Insecta. To identify these larvae, pay attention to these features:

  • Distinct black, gray, and white bands on their body
  • Long, silky, black hairs that extend outward from the bands

These caterpillars are a part of the animal kingdom, and as they grow to maturity, they transform into a beautiful moth.

Moth Identification

The adult Spotted Apatelodes moth exhibits unique characteristics:

  • Distinguishing creamy white wings
  • Velvety appearance
  • Intricate dark brown spots on its wings
  • A robust body with a furry tail

Becoming familiar with these distinct features will make it easy for you to identify Spotted Apatelodes moths in the wild. Enjoy your journey through the fascinating world of these insects!

Conclusion

In summary, the Spotted Apatelodes is a fascinating moth species with its distinctive markings and hairy appearance. As a nocturnal insect, they play a significant role in the ecosystem by helping with pollination during nighttime hours.

Remember to always approach these moths with care and respect, as their presence contributes to a balanced environment. Becoming familiar with the Spotted Apatelodes and other moth species helps raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity in your surroundings.

So next time you spot a Spotted Apatelodes fluttering around, take a moment to appreciate its unique beauty and the diverse world of moths it represents.

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 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Please help identify this bug
Location: Allenhurst, New Jersey USA
July 28, 2011 5:50 pm
My sister took a picture of this bug on the screen at her work and it has us all baffled as to what it is. It kinda looks lke a dragon and a spider combined. Any help and/or information would be very much appreciated.
Look forward to hearing back from you.
Michelle
Signature: Michelle

Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Michelle,
The silhouette of the Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, is very distinctive.  Though it is actually a Silkmoth, it is frequently mistaken for one of the Sphinx Moths.  You can find more information on the Spotted Apatelodes on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

looks like a moth maybe
Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 6:48 AM
this bug was on the front door all day and even when the door would be slammed shut it wouldnt fall off. i took pictures of it and we all want to know what it is. We were in Jamesport, NY (on Long island)
from ash
Jamesport, NY on Long Island

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Ash,
Though it is easily mistaken for a Sphinx Moth, the Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta, is actually a Silkworm Moth in the family Bombycidae.

Letter 3 – Another Spotted Apatelodes

 

photo of Spotted Apatelodes Moth
Hi!
Thought you might like this photo of the Spotted Apatelodes Moth that i snapped here in Virginia. Your site helped me to identify it. Thought you might like the photo, it’s much clearer for identifying than the one pictured. Thanks again! Love the site!
~tree
Indian Valley, VA

Hi Tree,
Thanks for sending your photo our way.

Letter 4 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Sphinx Moth of Some Kind?
Hi Bugman;
We live in East Tennessee and my wife Jannett saw this moth on our garage wall. It was over my head, that is the reason for the silly angle of the attached pictures. I did capture it in a clear jar to see if I could get a better shot, but the poor thing just about beat itself to death trying to get out of the jar. So I let it go before getting a ‘head on’ picture. Is it possible for you to identify the critter from the attached pictures? Thanx;
John

Hi John,
Even though it looks like a Sphinx Moth, the Spotted Apatelodes is really in the family Bombycidae, the Silkworm Moths.

Letter 5 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

What the heck is this?
Hi.
Hope you can help us. My sister-in-law found the following "insect" on the siding outside of her house yesterday. None of us have seen anything like it before. It appears to be about an inch or two long. We live in Cape May County, NJ. Any info you have on it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Maureen Cawley

Ed. Note: The string of family emails also contained the following gems of wisdom.

Does anyone know what the heck this is? It was on the back wall of our house yesterday. He’s kind of cute, provided he doesn’t get bigger and bigger and start devouring us. (Troy, please show pics to Emmett. I told him about it and said I’d take pictures.)

I zoomed the pictures and brightened them a bit so I could more accurately identify this interesting specimen. I came to the conclusion that…I have no friggin’ idea what this is. But it seems you got a great picture of its butt. That’s what you get for moving “off-shore”. The Cape May County Mosquito Commission no doubt exterminated all of these little suckers from the island years ago…It probably had something to do with the clouds of DDT they would spray through the streets. (Which I would subsequently run through with my toy guns playing “army man”…That could explain some things, eh? Like the headaches.) Anna says maybe it’s a baby bat. Katie says a baby butterfly. Emmett’s vote: Some kind of bug (boring). And Maureen says you should alert FEMA and not go outside for 6 months. I think you should have smushed it. That’s a term entomologists use for what they do with bugs that are “icky.”
Troy
P.S. I will research this extensively this evening, provided thunderstorms don’t rip through South Jersey and keep me busy with actual work. Yuck.

Dear Maureen, Emmett, Anna, Katie and Troy,
We think this is a Spotted Apatelodes Moth, Apatelodes torrefacta. This moth ranges from Canada to the Southern state and west to the Mississippi River. It is relatively common in the Appalacian region.

Letter 6 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Possible Amorpha juglandis?
Dear "What’s That Bug?",
I was walking outside to get the mail this morning, and I noticed this bug on my front door. At first, I didn’t know if it was real or not, due to trick that people in my family like to pull, but when it moved I realized that it wasn’t a fake. At the same time, I had never seen this sort of bug before, and really had no idea what it was. After doing a bit of research, it seems to be quite similar to the Amorpha juglandis, but there are still some differences that make me wonder, and the sites didn’t say that they were found in New York, where I live. No one I’ve asked so far has been able to tell me what it is, and so I was wondering if you could clear things up. Attached to this email is a photo of the bug, and I have a few others posted on my DeviantArt page ( http://puppkid.deviantart.com/ ), if that one doesn’t help, since it’s from the back. If you can identify this, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks a lot! Sincerely,
Jessica

Hi Jessica,
This is a Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta. We like checking BugGuide’s Data pages for range information (since they are a much more thorough, organized and scientific site than our own), though their information is based on submissions to their website. There is not a submission from New York, but there are submissions from many adjacent states as well as Canada. If you submit your image to BugGuide, the range information will be more complete.

Letter 7 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

I have some pics to donate and maybe a question or two.
I am a student at the
University of West Florida and am an photographer and naturalist much as you folks seem to be. All of these pictures excepting the first was taken with a Nikon D50 at the finest JPEG setting and 3008×2000 as the image size so high resolution copies are available upon request (these are all at 25% original size). They were also taken in either Pensacola or Panama City, Florida which are identical in climate and geography. Spotted Apatelodes I think. Taken by my friend at a Sonic two nights ago. I hope to send more pictures to you in the future. Most will be from the UWF nature preserve.
Chris Mathers
UWF Pensacola, Florida

Hi Chris,
This is indeed a Spotted Apatelodes Moth. Just yesterday we got a wonderful photo of a caterpillar from this species. The moth you described is some species of Sphinx Moth and we have three pages devoted to the family Sphingidae.

Letter 8 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

what kind of moth do I have?
Hello! I found this guy resting on our screen door. I am hoping you can help me identify him. Thanks!
Sharon from Ohio

Hi Sharon,
Despite looking like a Sphinx Moth, the Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta, is actually related to the Giant Silkmoths.

Letter 9 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

January 15, 2009
Thanks! You identified a Spotted Apatelodes Moth for me.  No description or photo would fit it. I kept saying that it looked like bark. I may have seen a butterfly the other day that resembled it, but this morning was cool, and it was tired. I was able to pick it up, and was able to get a close look at it. Still looks like bark, but I noticed the feather antennae, and the curved abdomen. This evening I found your site.  So I am very excited. You will look long and hard for an image of it, because… it looks like bark. I put it onto an arbor vitae, so maybe I’ll be able to get a photo tomorrow, if it is still there. Peace!
kathy

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Kathy,
We are thrilled that you have used our website to identify your Spotted Apatelodes.  We are including a photo submitted previously to post with your letter.  We haven’t received any recent images of this unusual moth and we hope you are able to locate and photograph the individual you saw.

Letter 10 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

what kind of moth?
June 11, 2010
This moth bug was sitting on my back patio so I grabbed the camera and took 2 pics of it front and back. It looked like a baby bat at first but I also saw an Indian luna moth as well in the following days. I live in Central Florida but my backyard is next to a nature preserve so it is very lush. Can you help identify it? It resembles the oleander hawkmoth in some features but not exactly.
gatorgirl
Central Florida

Spotted Apatelodes

Hi gatorgirl,
The first time we received a photo of a Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta, we thought it must be a Sphinx Moth or Hawkmoth.  It is actually a Giant Silkmoth.  You can read more about the Spotted Apatelodes on BugGuide.

Letter 11 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

What is this?
Location: Bucks County, PA
July 4, 2011 10:56 am
I found this on my front door this morninig. It looks like some type of moth.
Signature: Seth

Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Seth,
Though it is frequently mistaken for a Sphinx Moth, your Spotted Apatelodes is actually a Silkworm Moth.

Letter 12 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: What is this!!!
Location: Georgia
June 26, 2013 7:24 am
This is from GA just taken yesterday (6/25/13) right outside of Atlanta
Signature: Thank you

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

This is a moth commonly called a Spotted Apatelodes.

Letter 13 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: What’s this bug?
Location: New Port Richey, Florida
October 15, 2013 11:34 am
Dear bugman,
I spotted this mini dragon looking bug on the side of my house. Can you tell me what this is?
Thanks
Signature: Terry Fields

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Terry,
The shape of the Spotted Apatelodes Moth is quite distinctive.

Letter 14 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: Elephant Moth
Location: Southeast-USA
May 20, 2014 6:47 pm
This moth showed up this morning and stayed all day in the same location. I am just wondering what kind it is. It resembles an elephant to me. What’s your thoughts?
Signature: Wayne

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Wayne,
Your moth is a Spotted Apatelodes, and we agree that its curved abdomen does resemble the trunk of an elephant.  Could you please provide a more specific location?

Letter 15 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: Spotted Apatelodes
Location: Caledonia, Michigan
June 5, 2014 1:26 pm
Dear Bugman,
My fiancé, Michael, found this bug sitting on a stack of patio furniture outside our local grocery store today. Upon first glance, he thought it might be a baby bat or something of that sort, but after some research I am led to believe that it is a Spotted Apatelodes Moth,Apatelodes Torrefacta. Could you confirm if I am correct? Thanks!
Signature: Melissa Chaplin

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Melissa,
You are absolutely correct.  This is a Spotted Apatelodes.

Letter 16 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: DRAGON?!
Location: Tennessee USA
June 28, 2014 4:45 pm
Friend of mine, who lives in Tennessee, found this bug at a park. It is the strangest thing we have ever laid eyes on! Looks like a dragon! What’s that bug?
Signature: Melissa Paulk

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Dear Melissa,
Amusingly, when we went to name your image for inclusion in our archives, we realized another Melissa submitted an image of a Spotted Apatelodes earlier this month.  The Spotted Apatelodes is a moth, not a dragon.

Thank you for the information! Also, we did some digging and found that it comes from a “saddleback caterpillar..is that true? If so, that is a very interesting looking caterpillar!

Where did you do your research?  It is not correct.  The caterpillar of the Spotted Apatelodes is yellow and fuzzy with longer black tufts and it can be viewed on BugGuide, and excellent source for information on North American insects.  The Saddleback Caterpillar develops into a very different Saddleback Caterpillar Moth which we just posted for the first time this week.

Letter 17 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: UFO or ?
Location: Dundee, NY
July 5, 2015 12:04 pm
Hello Bugman!
This wonderful creature, perched on an exterior 2″ wide door frame is, as of yet, to be identified.
It, along with a Luna moth, arrived for my father’s funeral. Dad was a WWII Atomic Veteran and stationed at Roswell. We decided this creature was not a human visitor. So, what is it?
Thanks,
Signature: Kathleen Wright

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Dear Kathleen,
Like the Luna Moth, this Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, is also a Giant Silkmoth, but from a different family.  The Luna Moth is in the family Saturniidae and the Spotted Apatelodes is in the family Bombycidae.  The pose when resting is quite distinctive.

Letter 18 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: Strange Bug
Location: Northwestern West Virginia
July 11, 2016 9:11 pm
Hello. I’ve found a strange insect that hangs around my house and all of my plants. I have researched and I can’t seem to figure out what type of bug this is. I am hoping to get some help. I live in West Virginia and I have been seeing this insect since the beginning of spring.
Signature: – Madison

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Dear Madison,
This fascinating moth is a Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, and you can compare your image to this BugGuide image.  Most of the images of the Spotted Apatelodes on our site are taken from below, and your image has a better vantage for appreciating the subtle beauty of this interesting moth.

Letter 19 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject: Strange moth – Alabama 4/19
Location: Alabama (Enterprise)
April 19, 2017 11:58 am
Hello! I found an interesting moth I haven’t been able to identify via various lists. Any ideas? Hope you’re having a great week and thank you for your time!
Signature: Kate

Spotted Apatelodes

Dear Kate,
This unforgettable moth is a Spotted Apatelodes, and according to BugGuide:  “An odd-looking species, easily mistaken for a sphinx moth.”

Letter 20 – Spotted Apatelodes

 

Subject:  Bug to identify
Geographic location of the bug:  Gettysburg, PA
Date: 06/17/2021
Time: 08:42 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, Danny!!  Gordy found this bug on his window screen.  It looks prehistoric!  I hope you can tell us what it is!  Not a very good pic I know ;(
How you want your letter signed:  Kerry Morgan

Spotted Apatelodes

Kerry Joyce Morgan, how nice to hear from you.
This sure looks like a Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, a moth found in much of the eastern United States.  According to BugGuide it is:  “An odd-looking species, easily mistaken for a sphinx moth.”  I just booked a ticket and I will be in Campbell from late July until late August.  Stop by for a visit.  Say hi to your brother.

Letter 21 – Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

 

mystery caterpillar
I spotted this caterpillar on the underside of a leaf in the woods in central Kentucky. It was about three inches long. You can see some stripes under all the “fur” if you look closely. If you can help me identify it, I would really appreciate it. I teach biology at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, KY. Thanks,
Catherine Underwood
Lexington, KY

Hi Catherine,
We are suckers when a querent pulls the teacher card on us. Your caterpillar superficially resembles the American Dagger Moth, Acronicta americana, which can be viewed on BugGuide. The true identity of your caterpillar is the larva of the Spotted Apatelodes, Apatelodes torrefacta, which can also be viewed on BugGuide.

Letter 22 – Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

 

caterpillar
What kind of caterpillar is this? I searched your site and could not find one like it. It’s yellow, fuzzy, and about 3 inches long. Found in Dallas, Georgia.
Lee Hooker

Hi Lee,
What a gorgeous photo of a Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar, Apatelodes torrefacta. The adult moth is sometimes confused with the sphinx moths, when it is in fact related to the silk moths.

Letter 23 – Spotted Apatelodes did not molt into Inverted Y Slug Moth

 

Subject: Mysterious moth that molted and got smaller?
Location: Pennsylvania
June 19, 2014 5:06 pm
Yesterday when I got to my office, there was a 1.5″ wide brown moth attached to the screen door. It was pretty cool looking, so I took a picture. It stayed there all day as people came and went, without so much as a flutter. The next day when I got to work and looked at the door, I saw the smaller yellow/orange moth attached in the exact same spot. It hung around for a bit, and then was gone; I’m guessing that it got bored and flew off. I’m wondering if they are the same bug that molted or somehow changed from the large brown into the smaller yellow? Or is it just a pure coincidence that they were both at the exact same spot? It’s got me pretty intrigued, and I keep looking around the internet and can’t seem to find any information. Thanks!
Signature: Jeremy S.

Spotted Apatelodes
Spotted Apatelodes

Dear Jeremy,
What an interesting question you have posed.  You are under a misconception that moths (and possibly butterflies) will molt.  Molting is a process undergone by the immature caterpillars, and the final molt occurs when the adult moth emerges or ecloses from the pupa.  The large moth you saw originally is a Spotted Apatelodes.  We are not certain of the identity of the smaller orange moth, but it may be in the family Geometridae.

Possibly Geometrid Moth
Inverted Y Slug Moth

Correction:  June 28, 2014
Thanks to a comment from Ben, we now believe this is an Inverted Y Slug Moth,
Apoda y-inversum, based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 24 – Spotted Apatelodes Moth

 

crazy bug Hello!
I found your website and wondered if you can help me identify this bug… i can’t tell if it’s a moth, or what, but i think it’s nocturnal anyway. it has crazy clawed feet and a curled tail… it is less than two inches wide and less than one inch long. it looks like it could be dangerous, but i can’t tell! i have never seen anything like it, and couldn’t find it any of the books i have.
thanks!
Leslie
Charlottesville, VA

Hi Leslie,
We have gotten photos of the distinctive caterpillar of the Spotted Apatelodes Moth (Apatelodes torrefacta) in the past, but yours is the first photo of the adult (other than one we nabbed from the internet to accompany the caterpillar photo on our caterpillar page). This moth ranges from Canada to the Southern state and west to the Mississippi River. It is relatively common in the Appalacian region.

Letter 25 – Spotted Apatelodes Moths appear in great numbers in Georgia

 

Freaky bug
Location: douglasville georgia
May 29, 2011 12:30 am
I have no idea what these bugs are but they are all over my house and yard. I live in georgia and they appeared aroind may 26th.
Signature: Damisha Truitt

Spotted Apatelodes

Hi Damisha,
This is a Moth known as the Spotted Apatelodes,
Apatelodes torrefacta, and it is perfectly harmless.  They do not even feed as adults since they do not have working mouth parts.  We are intrigued that they have appeared in such numbers.  According to BugGuide, the caterpillars feed upon the leaves of “ash (Fraxinus), cherry (Prunus), maple (Acer), oak (Quercus).”   Perhaps you had a large caterpillar population last season on your nearby trees, and though you did not notice the caterpillars, they eventually metamorphosed into a new generation that recently emerged as adults.  Here is a link to a photo of the Caterpillar.  Does it look familiar?

Letter 26 – Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Found this in my garden
Geographic location of the bug:  Clinton Corners, New York
Date: 08/07/2018
Time: 11:46 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Can you tell me what kind of caterpillar this is  ?
How you want your letter signed:  Brenda

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

Dear Brenda,
This appears to be the same species, or a close relative of an unidentified Caterpillar we posted three days ago.  We wrote:  “Your caterpillar looks remarkably like both the Caterpillar of the American Dagger Moth and the Caterpillar of the Banded Tussock Moth, but the pattern of the black tufts of hair on your caterpillar are noticeably different. ”  We are pretty certain this is not a Caterpillar in the subfamily Arctiinae, but we will contact Arctiid expert Julian Donahue to see if he recognizes them.  What is the food plant?

Julian Donahue provides an identification.
Hi Daniel,
Good for you to suspect the identification–it is neither of the two candidates.
Both of these are larvae of the Spotted Apatelodes Moth (Apatelodes torrefacta; Apatelodidae).
More images of adults and larvae, and distribution, here: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=7663

All the best,
Julian

It was on an Azalea plant.
Brenda

Letter 27 – Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Name this woolly worm
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Kentucky
Date: 08/04/2018
Time: 06:12 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Would LOVE to know what this is! Photographed 8/4/18 on land in Hart County Ky
How you want your letter signed:  Courious George

Spotted Apatelodes Caterpillar

Dear Courious George,
Are you curious as well?  Your caterpillar looks remarkably like both the Caterpillar of the American Dagger Moth and the Caterpillar of the Banded Tussock Moth, but the pattern of the black tufts of hair on your caterpillar are noticeably different.  After what seems like an interminable time searching for the identity of your caterpillar on the internet, we need to give our eyes a rest from the computer and go outside to enjoy the late afternoon, California sunlight.  We are posting your Caterpillar as unidentified and we hope one of our readers will be able to come to our assistance.

Yes, Curious George didn’t spell check LOL! Thank you so much for trying and replying. Hope you are enjoying your late day sun!
Sincerely,
Michelle

Julian Donahue provides an identification.
Hi Daniel,
Good for you to suspect the identification–it is neither of the two candidates.
Both of these are larvae of the Spotted Apatelodes Moth (Apatelodes torrefacta; Apatelodidae).
More images of adults and larvae, and distribution, here: http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/species.php?hodges=7663

All the best,
Julian

Letter 28 – Silkmoth from Trinidad: Apatelodes nina

 

Subject: Trinidad Moth
Location: Trinidad & Tobago
March 27, 2016 9:32 am
I found this moth (I suspect it might be a Notodontidae) on the verandah roof of the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad on 11 March 2016. Could you possibly identify it please?
Regards
Signature: John Perry

Possibly Silkmoth
Possibly Silkmoth

Dear John,
We do not believe this is a Prominent Moth in the family Notodontidae.  Your moth reminds us very much of the North American Spotted Apatelodes, one of the Silkmoths in the family Bombycidae, but we have not had any luck locating a matching image on the internet.  We will continue to research your request, and we will also enlist the assistance of our readership. 

Thanks very much. Prominent was just a guess as it looks vaguely similar to the ones we have here in the UK. I would be very interested to know the results of your research.
Regards
John

Julian Donahue responds
Hi Daniel,
Try Mimallonidae.
Julian

Despite Julian’s suggestion that we research Sack-Bearer Moths from the family Mimallonidae, a family also represented on BugGuide, we have not had any luck with a species.  The family is well represented on Discover Life, but no images match the submitted image.  We did however locate this pdf  on ttfnc entitled On the Number of Moths (Lepidoptera) that Occur in Trinidad and Tobago by Matthew J. W. Cock, and we suspect we may find the answer there if we hunt more.  We will attempt to contact the author, Matthew J.W. Cock for assistance.

Hi again Daniel
Having just looked up Spotted Apatelodes on the web and seen some pics, it reminds me of a moth pic I took at the same place and time as the one I submitted. I attach a very poor pic of it.  I can’t find any evidence that Spotted Apatelodes is found in Trinidad – but it might be closely related.
Regards
John

Same or Different Species???
Same or Different Species???

Thanks for the update John,
This new image does support our initial impression that your moth may be in the family Bombycidae, and we wonder if both of your images are the same species.  When conditions are right, moths (and other insects) from the same species emerge simultaneously which benefits the species as individuals have a better chance of locating a mate.  Since your two images were taken “at the same place and time” we suspect they are the same species as there are similarities in the overall structure, though the markings are not evident on the second image.  Hopefully Matthew J. W. Cock will respond to our request after we located his contact information on the internet.

Julian Donahue supplies additional information
Mimallonidae used to be called Lacosomidae.
But on second thought, and after reviewing the attached PDF (where you can see images of mimallonids–they all pretty much look alike), I think that this moth is a geometrid (forewing cubitus vein appears to be 3-branched).
Here’s the attachment!  15465-5006-1-PB
Julian

Thanks Julian,
I have also written to Matthew J.W. Cock who wrote this article.

Matthew J.W. Cock responds
Dear Daniel
This is a male of what I am calling Apatelodes nina (Stoll) sp. (Apatelodidae).  However, this is a genus and family that needs revision with many undescribed species, so things may change when further work is done.
Kind regards, Matthew

Thank you for your help.  I’m impressed at the speed of your replies!
Regards
John

 

Authors

  • Bugman

    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.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    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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Tags: Spotted Apatelodes

Related Posts

18 Comments. Leave new

  • I do not have a Comment, I have a question.
    I have Caterpillar’s I have never seen before. I can not find it on the computer. I find some that looks some what like it but not the same. This does not mean it is not there. I can not find it. I am wanting to know what harm do they do? They look some what like this,–Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta)
    18 Sep 2003, Kennesaw Mountain, Cobb County, GA
    But they are not! I do not know how to send you a picture?
    The bigger ones look like they have a reddish brown hair horns only on one end. The other is smaller, except the Hair Horn looking things are white or cool yellow. They usually look like they are carrying something on there backs. First time to see them. I live in Madison County, AL

    Reply
  • I do not have a Comment, I have a question.
    I have Caterpillar’s I have never seen before. I can not find it on the computer. I find some that looks some what like it but not the same. This does not mean it is not there. I can not find it. I am wanting to know what harm do they do? They look some what like this,–Spotted Apatelodes (Apatelodes torrefacta)
    18 Sep 2003, Kennesaw Mountain, Cobb County, GA
    But they are not! I do not know how to send you a picture?
    The bigger ones look like they have a reddish brown hair horns only on one end. The other is smaller, except the Hair Horn looking things are white or cool yellow. They usually look like they are carrying something on there backs. First time to see them. I live in Madison County, AL

    Reply
  • Cynthia Davidson
    October 9, 2013 10:12 am

    My grandson and I found one of these on Oct. 7 and put in in a clear plastic container with leaves and airholes so he could watch it. The next morning it had formed a cacoon.

    Reply
  • Hi…..we have this apatelode, silk moth, on our porch for 2 days. we also have oak trees all over here……is this a moth we need to exterminate for health of trees?

    Thank you, Rebecca

    Reply
  • Hi…..we have this apatelode, silk moth, on our porch for 2 days. we also have oak trees all over here……is this a moth we need to exterminate for health of trees?

    Thank you, Rebecca

    Reply
  • The second one looks like a Limacodid in the genus Apoda to me…

    Reply
  • that is an awesome sign from your dad!

    Reply
  • Your sister DID NOT take that picture. That picture was taken in Mexico City by me. That is all.

    Reply
  • I currently have eight of these larva visible in one of my maple trees. Very excited to see how they turn out. just now starting cocoon up.

    Reply
  • Spotted Apatelodes
    I take fotos of an butifful exemplar in the mountains of Costa Rica, Central America

    Reply
  • Spotted Apatelodes
    I take fotos of an butifful exemplar in the mountains of Costa Rica, Central America

    Reply
  • How can I share a photo of a dragon moth?

    Reply
  • I found one on my Ohio kitchen window

    Reply

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