Tiger moths are fascinating creatures known for their striking colors and unique patterns. You might have encountered these small to medium-sized moths in nature, perching with their wings held roof-like over their bodies. Their bold patterns often include mixes of white, yellow, orange, red, and black that resemble the stripes and spots found on their namesake, the tiger.
The beauty of these moths is not merely aesthetic; their vibrant colors can serve as a warning to predators. For instance, the well-known Isabella Tiger Moth, also called the Woolly Bear, showcases yellow or tan forewings with faint lines and small dark spots. Meanwhile, the Banded Tiger Moth features striking black forewings with cream-colored markings. Each species has its own distinct characteristics.
In addition to their striking appearance, tiger moths have some intriguing behaviors. For example, they play a role in the ecosystem as pollinators and as a food source for various predatory species. As you learn more about these fascinating insects, you’ll discover the role that they play in their habitats and the distinctive features that set them apart from other moths.
Tiger Moth Basics
Tiger Moths belong to the family Arctiidae. Their scientific classification is as follows:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Arctiidae
Size and Appearance
Tiger Moths are small to medium-sized moths with wingspans typically ranging from 1 to 3 inches. They are adorned with vibrant colors such as white, yellow, orange, red, and black, often showcasing bold patterns like wide bands, tiger-like stripes, and leopard-like spots on their wings1. Their wings are commonly held rooflike over their bodies when at rest2.
Distribution in North America
Tiger Moths can be found across North America, including Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They inhabit a variety of environments ranging from forests to meadows and are attracted to both natural and artificial light sources. Some species may have specific host plants that they feed on, while others are more generalist feeders1.
Life Cycle of the Tiger Moth
From Eggs to Larvae
The life cycle of the Tiger Moth begins with fertilized eggs. Female moths lay eggs carefully on plants, ensuring a good food source for the soon-to-hatch larvae. After some time, these eggs will hatch into voracious larvae. At this stage, you might recognize them as the famous “woolly bear” caterpillars, covered in bristles and displaying distinct color patterns. These larvae predominantly feed on various plants in their surroundings, growing bigger and stronger as they consume more food.
Key features of the larvae stage:
- Distinct color patterns
- Bristle-covered bodies
Pupation and Metamorphosis
Before transforming into adult moths, the larvae go through a stage called pupation. During this phase, they will form a protective shell or cocoon around themselves known as a pupa. The pupa acts as a safe environment for the larvae to undergo significant changes called metamorphosis.
Once the pupa stage is complete, adult Tiger Moths will emerge from their protective shells, boasting new wings and brighter colors. The adults are now ready to start the cycle again by mating and laying eggs.
Characteristics of pupation and metamorphosis:
- Protective cocoon
- Significant body changes
- Emergence of wings in adults
By observing and understanding the life cycle of the Tiger Moth, you can appreciate the fascinating process these insects go through, from eggs to larvae, pupation, and, finally, metamorphosis into beautiful adult moths.
Diet and Survival Strategy
Favorite Plants and Feeding Habits
Tiger moths, as caterpillars, mainly feed on various plant matter. They have some host plants they particularly enjoy. These include plants like willows and poplars. Their diet consists of leaves and stems, helping them gain the necessary nutrients during their growth.
As adults, these moths’ diet changes to focus more on nectar. They feed on the nectar from flowers, which provides them with energy. Some tiger moths have been observed sipping water from damp soil, which helps them stay hydrated.
Tiger moths have evolved to adapt to their environment and fend off predators. A critical aspect of their survival strategy is aposematic coloration. They have bright, contrasting colors that signal to potential predators that they are distasteful or toxic. These colors serve as a warning to avoid being eaten.
To deal with their predators, tiger moths sometimes use their bright colors to camouflage against similarly colored plants. They also have the ability to emit ultrasonic clicks, which can deter certain predators, such as bats, from attacking them.
In summary, tiger moths have developed various adaptations to survive in their environment. Through their specific feeding habits and tactics to avoid predators, they have managed to thrive as a species.
Habitat and Conservation
Tiger Moths can be found in a variety of habitats, including:
- Gardens: You might spot them around flowers and vegetation, where they usually lay their eggs.
- Fields: Open grasslands provide a great environment for these moths, especially if wildflowers are present.
- Woodlands and Forests: These habitats offer protection and plenty of food sources for Tiger Moths.
- Near water and rainforests: Some species thrive close to water sources and in humid environments like rainforests.
Conservation Status and Threats
Tiger Moths play an essential role in their ecosystem as pollinators and as a food source for many predators. Unfortunately, they’re facing habitat loss due to:
- Deforestation: Clearing of woodlands and forests to make room for agriculture or urban development harms their natural habitat.
- Conversion of natural habitats: When gardens, fields, and other habitats are converted to monoculture farming or artificial surfaces, it reduces the availability of food and shelter for these moths.
To help protect and conserve Tiger Moths, you can:
- Plant native flowers, plants, and shrubs in your garden to provide nectar sources for the moths and host plants for their caterpillars.
- Support conservation organizations working to preserve and restore natural habitats.
- Educate others about the importance of these moths and their role in our ecosystem.
By taking these steps, you can contribute to maintaining a healthy environment for Tiger Moths and other important species in our ecosystem.
Unique Characteristics and Behavior
Mating and Reproduction
The Isabella Tiger Moth, also known as the Woolly Bear or Woolly Worm, displays unique characteristics when it comes to mating and reproduction. Sexual dimorphism is evident, as females typically have lighter orange hindwings. During the mating process, these nocturnal insects engage in a fascinating dance.
- Males search for females by detecting pheromones, which are released into the night air.
- Females deposit their eggs on suitable host plants, providing a food source for the larvae upon hatching.
As nocturnal creatures, Isabella Tiger Moths come out at night to engage in various activities crucial for their survival. For example:
- Mating – occurs mostly during dark hours, providing a discreet environment for reproduction.
- Searching for food – night makes it easier for them to locate their preferred meal options, such as flowers and leaves.
Tiger Moths use ultrasonic clicks in their interactions, making them unique in their communication abilities. These clicks serve several purposes:
- Defending against predators – ultrasonic clicks can deter bats that prey on moths by jamming their echolocation signals.
- Mating calls – males use these clicks to communicate with potential mates.
By understanding these fascinating characteristics and behaviors of the Isabella Tiger Moth, you can better appreciate the complexity and diversity of this unique insect species.
Interaction with Humans and Possible Risks
Tiger moths, like many insects, may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Such reactions could range from mild irritation to more severe skin rashes or hives. If you come in contact with a tiger moth and notice any discomfort, it’s essential to take precautions to prevent further irritation.
- Avoid direct contact with the moth
- Wash the affected area with soap and water
- Apply a soothing topical cream
General Harmlessness of Tiger Moths
Despite the potential for allergic reactions, tiger moths are generally harmless insects. They do not bite or sting, making them less dangerous than some other insects. In fact, they can even serve as a natural form of pest control, as their caterpillars often consume unwanted plants.
To put things into perspective, here’s a comparison table of tiger moths with other common insects:
|Insect||Allergic Reactions||Biting/Stinging||Harm to Humans|
|Honey Bee||Possible||Yes (stinging)||Low to Moderate|
|Mosquito||Possible||Yes (biting)||Low to High (disease transmission)|
So, while interacting with tiger moths or their caterpillars, always remember that they are generally harmless creatures and pose minimal risk to humans. However, stay cautious if you know you are allergic or sensitive to insects and caterpillars.
Mystical Aspects and Folklore
Tiger Moths are more than just beautiful insects; they also hold significant spiritual meanings and play a role in folklore. Known for their striking patterns and colors, these moths have inspired many stories and beliefs throughout different cultures. In this section, we’ll briefly dive into the mystical aspects and folklore associated with Tiger Moths.
Tiger Moths are often considered symbols of transformation and change. Just like how a caterpillar transforms into a moth, you too might be going through a period of personal growth and change. Many people view Tiger Moths as signals that it’s time to embrace transformation and let go of anything holding you back.
In some cultures, the appearance of a Tiger Moth is believed to bring spiritual messages from the deceased. It is thought that their presence signifies a message of love and support from a loved one who has passed away. Pay attention to any feelings or thoughts that surface when you encounter a Tiger Moth, as they may hold an essential message for you.
As you can see, these amazing creatures can offer you a lot of insights and symbolism. Keep an open mind when you encounter a Tiger Moth, and you might just discover more about yourself and your spiritual journey.
In summary, Tiger Moths are a fascinating group of insects with diverse appearances and behaviors. They’re known for their bold patterns and colors, which can include stripes and spots, making them easy to identify.
One example of a Tiger Moth is the Isabella Tiger Moth, whose larval stage is the well-known woolly bear caterpillar. These moths and caterpillars play important roles in their ecosystems as pollinators and sources of food for predators.
In their adult form, Tiger Moths have some interesting behaviors, such as courtship displays that involve sounds and scents. They also exhibit unique defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators, including mimicking wasps and emitting unpleasant odors when handled.
Now that you have the essential knowledge about Tiger Moths, you can further engage with these captivating creatures by exploring their habitats, learning about different species, and observing their life cycles. Enjoy your continued journey into the world of Tiger Moths!
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 – Clio Tiger Moth Caterpillar from Arizona
Location: Black Canyon City, AZ
March 9, 2011 7:24 pm
My sons & I have found this caterpillar (we have named him Cowboy) but we are having a hard time identifying it. we offered him celery stalks w/ the leaves, red cabbage & a cholla cactus (spines removed) but he wants none of it. I noticed he sleeps all day & comes to life @ night. we have had him since yesterday afternoon & we don’t want him to starve to death & if we can not figure out what he likes to eat we will need to release him. we have him in a bug box on a self in the living-room (not in direct sun light). we enjoy watching the life cycle of caterpillars & have enjoyed inchworms that turned in to geometrid moths in the past.
We have been trying to provide an identification for you in vain. The closest we can come is that your caterpillar shares many similar characteristics with the Asp or Puss Caterpillar, the larva of the Southern Flannel Moth, Megalopyge opercularis, which you can see on BugGuide. The Asp is a stinging caterpillar and it should be handled with care. Though there are similarities, we do not believe that is the correct identification. Perhaps one of our readers will write in with a correct identification. When caterpillars are collected, they are generally found feeding upon plants and those are the plants that should be offered for food.
Thank you so much! You guys are great! I found him curled up under a Cholla cactus it was still daylight but he looked dead. I have tried a few leaves from almost every thing in my yard, he does not like any of it. I am going to let him go where I found him. I can say he had the nicest hairdo I have ever seen on a caterpillar! I will keep an eye out & see if some1 on your forum knows what cowboy is . I will also keep an eye out to see if I see cowboy in our yard on a plant eating it (so if we ever find another cowboy we will know what he eats).
Thanks for every thing!!
Update: January 3, 2016
We just received a comment that this is a Clio Tiger Moth caterpillar image. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on milkweed (Asclepias, Asclepiadaceae) and dogbane (Apocynum, Apocynaceae). Behr reported them on spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium).”
Letter 2 – Blue-Green Wasp Mimic from Peru
Subject: blue wasp / mimic in Peru
Location: Aguas Calientes, Peru
March 13, 2014 2:44 pm
Hey Bugman! I found this guy in Aguas Calientes, Peru (outside Machu Picchu) in late November the day after an incredible downpour. His / her gorgeous aquamarine wings (opaque) caught my eye – and I’m trying to decide if it was a spider wasp or a wasp mimic <http://www.learnaboutbutterflies.com/Amazon%20-%20Antichloris%20eriphia.htm>
I’m nearly certain based on how fuzzy he appears that it’s a mimic – but that could of course be due to my poor camera res…
Signature: Jet Setter
Dear Jet Setter,
The insect in your photo is definitely a moth that mimics wasps, and the link to the Blue-Green Wasp Mimic you provided appears to us to be the correct genus. The Learn About Butterflies site indicates: “The genus Antichloris contains about 30 species characterised by having black wings and bodies that reflect a bluish or greenish sheen. Identification can be difficult because there are many very similar species in other genera including Timalus, Phaeosphecia, Poliopastea, Psoloptera and Macrocneme. It is possible to narrow down the search by paying close attention to the wing shape and venation, and to the markings on the head, thorax and abdomen. In Antichloris eriphia the thoracic markings are very distinctive, and there are 2 red spots behind the head – although these can only be seen when the moth extends its head forward when feeding.” Exact species identification is most likely only possible if an expert (and that would NOT be us) inspects the actual specimen.
Letter 3 – Arctiid Moth from Ecuador is Amastus species
December 7, 2009
This Amastus sp photographed at Bellavista Lodge, Ecuador. Elevation +-2000 m. Some ID-help would be very welcome.
We are not sure if a species identification will be possible based on a photograph, but we will contact a specialist in the Tiger Moth family Arctiidae to see if he can provide that information.
Thank you for fast reply.
I found your website by accident and thought I would give it a try. It looks very nice.
The thing is, I’ve got quite a few photos of moths from my recent birding trip to Ecuador and I’m struggling to identify most of them.
Would it be a good idea to post them on What’s That Bug? And if so, would it be ok to add several species in one posting?
If they are closely related, like same genus or even same family, you may send them together. Different families should each get a unique letter and subsequent unique posting.
Clarification from Julian Donahue
It’s indeed an Amastus, near aconia, but a specimen would be nice to have for confirmation.
Herve de Toulgoet has done a lot of work on this genus in recent years, and has described many new species from Ecuador.
Your birding correspondent should have picked up the nice book(s) illustrating Ecuadorean arctiids while he was there …
Julian P. Donahue
Letter 4 – Arctiid Moth from South Africa
Location: Napier, Western Cape, South Africa
March 10, 2016 9:38 am
… The second JPG is of a moth my wife found in the kitchen – again, a first for us. With that colouring we would (should) have noticed it if it’s a local species.
Signature: Johann van der Merwe
We are going back through unanswered mail from March in an attempt to post some submissions our readers may enjoy. This pretty little Arctiid Moth is in the genus Utetheisa, and it is native to your area. There are several nice images on iSpot. The genus is not limited to South Africa. We even have a North American species which is documented on BugGuide.
Letter 5 – Tiger Moth from Costa Rica
Subject: Unknown Costa Rican moth
Location: Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
January 16, 2015 3:40 pm
Hello! I am studying in Costa Rica for this semester (spring 2015) and came across this little guy outside of where we were staying for a few nights. I’ve been trying to identify it for over an hour, with no luck, which surprised me considering how distinct its markings are. Any ideas?
This really is a gorgeous Moth. Red, green and blue are the primary colors of photography, and this lovely moth is a perfect poster moth for the medium. We have just returned from a trip and we are swamped with unanswered mail. We are posting your images Unidentified, and we will contact Lepidopterist Julian Donahue who has spent much time in Costa Rica to see if he can spare us some research, or at least point us in the right direction, but our initial impulse is that this might be an Owlet Moth in the family Noctuidae.
I’m not sure if it’s an owlet moth, since I’m having trouble narrowing it down from just the family, but I hope your Lepidopterist will be able to shed some light on this colorful moth!
We have not yet heard back from Julian.
Julian Donahue Responds
It’s a tiger moth in the genus Neonerita, but can’t put a name on the species.
Ed. NOte: Our staff has not succeeded in locating any images online that look remotely like this Tiger Moth.
Thanks to your tip, I was able to figure out that this species is called Neonerita incarnata. Interestingly, there’s very little to no information on the web that I’ve been able to dig up – the few things I did find either had no information past the name or were written in Russian (I think). Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on an insect book, but I’m glad I know what it is!
Letter 6 – Cool Maiden from South Africa
Geographic location of the bug: Eastern Cape South Africa
Time: 05:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi, I tried to identify this month, it’s either a polkadot wasp moth or a nine dot moth. Can you help? The orange markings seem different from both species.
How you want your letter signed: Kind regards
This is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and it reminds us very much of an image identified as the Heady Maiden Moth, Amata cerbera, which we identified a few years ago, so we searched for other members of the genus in South Africa. We found the Cool Hornet Moth, Amata kuhlweini, on iNaturalist and we verified its identity on African Moths where the common name is Cool Maiden.
Wow, Thank you for all the effort you put into identifying this stunning moth which now has a name~Cool Maiden!
I really appreciate it!
Letter 7 – Footman Moth from Nepal
Subject: Nepali moth
September 20, 2014 11:58 pm
here is a small day-flying moth taken in June, in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal. It’s about an inch long. Can you tell me what it is? It looks like a lady singing an aria.
The markings on the thorax of this Tiger Moth do indeed resemble the face of a woman with a mouth opened wide in song. Having guessed correctly that the subfamily is Arctiinae, we quickly found a matching image on FlickR that is identified as a Footman Moth, Barsine orientalis. We then located an image on SinoBug that supports the initial identification, but we realized is was another view from the same location taken by the same photographer, so we decided to search for a unique verification. We found verification on the Moths of Thailand site.
thank you so much for the quick reply and the accurate identification!
Letter 8 – Heady Maiden Moth from Tanzania
Subject: Unknown bug
Geographic location of the bug: Tanzania,, Africa
Time: 11:12 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Bug seen today at 15.00 near Arusha Tanzania.
Please identify for me.
How you want your letter signed: Ivan Wood
This is a diurnal Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and we previously identified it as a Heady Maiden Moth, Amata cerbera, and we received a comment identifying it as Amata mogadorensis, but with no explanation on how to distinguish the two species. Lepiforum has images of the latter and iNaturalist has images of the former. At least we know the genus is correct, and we are going with the Heady Maiden Moth because we like the common name.
Thank you for your prompt & comprehensive reply, I am really impressed with your service.
Letter 9 – Leconte's Haploa Moth
Yellow and Black Moth
June 30, 2010
I noticed this moth sitting on a rose bush during the day. Thought it had a different pattern, Could it be a Tiger Moth? Or possibly a slightly different version.
Nova Scotia. Canada
Your moth is indeed a Tiger Moth, and it is in the genus Haploa which included the Clymene Moth. We suspect it is the highly variable Leconte’s Haploa Moth, Haploa lecontei. One photo on BugGuide has markings nearly identical to your specimen, and the information page on BugGuide indicates that there is much variation between individuals.
Letter 10 – Male Northern Giant Flag Moth
Subject: Great northern flag moth
Location: Los Alamos, NM
August 7, 2017 1:52 pm
I found one in New Mexico last night. He appears sick or injured – I found him on the ground looking drunk, making spastic and uncoordinated movements. He’s recovered a bit indoors and I’ll try to release him tonight.
We are so thrilled to be able to post your gorgeous images of a male Northern Giant Flag Moth. We were excited to get your comment on our Bug of the Month posting and we are so happy you have provided the image. It is very interesting to see the undersides of the wing and it appears this species rests in a very “unmothlike” manner with the wings folded above the body like most butterflies rest. It is very interesting that the images of the female we received last week were the first images of the adult of this species we have ever received in the nearly 20 years we have been writing What’s That Bug? Perhaps 2017 is a year when their population numbers are higher since insect populations tend to ebb and flow from year to year.
Thanks for the response. Glad to share him. I’ve been in the southwest for twelve years and never seen one before. He is still hanging out in my bathroom and seems improved but not fully functional. Since regaining some coordination he has put his wings away. The display I got may have been a “lucky” result of whatever is ailing him. I’m attaching a few more photos of what he usually looks like at rest. Still beautiful. Any tips on nursing him back to health? I’ve just provided water and a safe place for now.
Hi again JLC,
Many Arctiids or Tiger Moths, the group that includes Dysschema howardi, do not feed as adults, but we have not been able to verify that regarding the Northern Giant Flag Moth. We did located this Project Noah posting that states: “Absolutely stunning moth. Sadly, this one was on it’s death bed. Wings were were black with yellow patterns and blue dots on hind wings with orange on bottom edge. Abdomen: top is orange. There is a lateral line of blue with a yellow underside. The tip of the abdomen was red. Leg have vivid yellow markings.” We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your Northern Giant Flag Moth might be at the end of its short life. Should he expire while in your care, we hope you preserve his as Northern Giant Flag Moths do not seem to be very common, and though we do not condone collecting wild specimens, we imagine some collector would love to have your specimen.
Letter 11 – Mating Maid Alice Moths in Ethiopia
Subject: Are these moths? And if so, what kind?
Geographic location of the bug: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
Time: 12:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hi!
I found these two moths (possibly) today while I was photographing Dragonflies along the wet lands of Lake Tana in Ethiopia. Since I have never seen one like these, I am very curious to know what they are.
Thank you for your assistance.
How you want your letter signed: Asrat (Bahirdar Photography)
These are mating Tiger Moths in the subfamily Arctiinae, and we found a matching image on Africa Wild that is identified as the Maid Alice Moth, Amata alicia. The indicated range on African Moths includes Ethiopia.
Letter 12 – Moths in Lawn in South Africa
Ed. Note: We really want to answer this query, but we don’t know where to begin our research. These appear to be some species of Tiger Moth.
Subject: Insect tipe
November 22, 2015 2:15 am
I have found this insect in my garden can you please help me to identify this insect?
Signature: Kobus slabbert
Where is your lawn? New Jersey? Cairo? Sydney??????
I sory it is bela bela in South Africa
Thanks for providing a location. Your images are not of the highest quality, but these appear to be diurnal moths. We searched through the two most obvious groups: the subfamily Agaristinae on iSpot, the tribe Ctenuchiini on iSpot and the family Zygaenidae also on iSpot, and though there were many similar moths, none had the combination of red head, red legs, dark wings and light spots that your individuals have. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck with this ID.
Letter 13 – Nine Spotted Moth from Hungary
July 6, 2017 11:00 am
Can you identify this (what i think is a wasp)?
Signature: in italics
We quickly identified your Tiger Moth that does mimic a stinging wasp as a Nine Spotted Moth, Amata phegea, thanks to Robert Harding Stock Photo, and we verified that ID on Encyclopedia Online and UK Moths which states: “The species is probably a genuine vagrant from continental Europe, with two records, one in the late 19th century, and another, photographed in Essex in 2000” and that it “occurs naturally in Europe, especially in the south, and flies on warm sunny days in June and July.”
Letter 14 – Orange Collared Scape Moth
Subject: Moth id
Geographic location of the bug: Monkton MD
Time: 11:35 AM EDT
I think this is a moth? It was found in early November on Hillside Sheffield Pink Chrysanthemum (although not native, it is a wonderful pollinator plant).
How you want your letter signed: Sue Myers
This is an Orange-Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, and according to BugGuide: “Adults fly from May to October or first hard frost.” As an aside, there is also Flower Fly in the upper left corner of your image. As a further aside, we were amused that in renaming your image for our archives, we discovered another Scape Moth submitted by a woman named Sue already existed in our archives.
Thank you so much! Wonderful information!
Ladew Topiary Gardens
Letter 15 – Orange Collared Scape Moth
Location: Jamestown, RI
August 15, 2011 11:52 am
This photo was taken on 7/23/10 in Jamestown, RI. Haven’t been able to identify it.
This is a diurnal member of the Tiger Moth tribe known as the Orange Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, and it is also called a Yellow Collared Scape Moth. BugGuide has a nice comprehensive page on this species. Your photo is very welcomed as we have not posted a new photo of this species since 2007.
Letter 16 – Orange Collared Scape Moth
Subject: Moth ID confirmation
Geographic location of the bug: Evergreen Park Illinois
Time: 01:34 PM EDT
I believe I have a Virginia Ctenucha Moth visiting my showy goldenrod and searching your site I see there has been no recent images uploaded so I am sending a few. I have also seen them feeding on boneset flowers but they do seem to prefer the goldenrod. I always look for these ‘buggers’ in September as a reminder fall is quickly on its way.
How you want your letter signed: Just chillin…………
Though your individual greatly resembles a Virginia Ctenucha Moth, it is actually an Orange Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, a member of the same subfamily. We have actually made this same mistake. The Virginia Ctenucha is black behind the head as in this Bugguide image, while the Scape Moth has an orange or yellow collar, as in this BugGuide image.
Letter 17 – Plain Tiger and Blue Pansy Butterflies from Indonesia
May 29, 2010
I started photography as a hobby few months ago and because of that I started to like butterfly. This butterfly photograph was taken today near my home. I don’t know its scientific name, actually I don’t know anything about bugs (butterfly).
I hope you can explain it to me. Thanks.
Bandung, Java, Indonesia
You have two different species of butterflies in your photos. The one that is labeled ketahuan is a Milkweed Butterfly, and we quickly identified it as Danaus chrysippus on Wikipedia, where it is known as the Common Tiger. This is a wide ranging species, and according to another website we found, tolweb.org, it is commonly called an African Queen. TrekNature has a nice photo for comparison. We identified your second butterfly as a Blue Pansy on the Butterflies Photo Gallery of Paul Riley website, but there is no scientific name. Web searching the common name led us to another site of Butterflies in Indonesia and the scientific name Junonia orithya. The TrekNature website also pictures this lovely species. The blue coloration, from what we have read, is limited to the male. Both the Plain Tiger and Blue Pansy are in the brush footed butterfly family Nymphalidae.
Thanks for the information. Later I will find first from the website that you mention 😀
I think I am starting to love butterfly, more than birds .
Letter 18 – Ornate Moth subspecies of Rattlebox Moth
Found in Kansas City
Location: Northern Missouri
October 24, 2010 8:41 am
This fella was found in a conservation area, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Hi Again Dee,
We discovered on BugGuide that “Utetheisa ornatrix & Utetheisa bella were formerly considered separate species; now they are considered subspecies (Utetheisa ornatrix ornatrix and Utetheisa ornatrix bella, respectively) of a single species” known as the Rattlebox Moth. Your photo is of the subspecies also known as the Ornate Moth, Utetheisa ornatrix ornatrix. According to Bugguide: “The mostly pink or yellow ‘bella’ form is common and widespread, whereas the paler ‘ornatrix’ form is restricted to southern Florida and southern Texas” which means your photo from Kansas City is a good bit north of the typical range of this subspecies. If your photos were taken at times radically different from when they are submitted, please include that information.
I took the photo of the Ornate Moth in July, 2010, in Northwestern Missouri. It was at a conservation area called Monkey Mountain, in Grain Valley, Missouri, a suburban area on the Eastern side of Kansas City
Letter 19 – Sandlewood Defoliator lays Eggs in India
Subject: Identify the bug
July 1, 2017 6:36 am
Can you help me in identifying this colourful insect.
Signature: I need a name of the species
We have identified your egg-laying Tiger Moth as Amata passalis thanks to this FlickR posting, and we verified the identification on iNaturalist. In our archives, we have this identified as a Sandlewood Defoliator.
Letter 20 – Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Guide to Bugs
Permission to use images
Location: Santa Barbara CA
April 8, 2011 4:20 pm
I am with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. We are writing a kid’s guide to Santa Barbara ”bugs” that will be available from our website as a free pdf. This will never be sold. We are trying to encourage young kids to get outside, explore, and learn about the natural world. Several of our guides are already available at http://www.sbnature.org/exhibitions/556.html. You would be given credit for the images with links to your web site.
Nature Education Specialist
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Signature: Gratefully yours,
What’s That Bug? will gladly allow you to use images from our archives for your free instructional and educational brochure. Once you select the images you would like, please include a comment to the posting requesting permission. We ask this because though we copyright our website content, the copyright to the images themselves belong to the photographers. We reserve the right to post these submitted images on our website, in other What’s That Bug? publications, and to also authorize their use for educational and nonprofit projects. As a courtesy, we would like to inform the photographers that their images are being used for these purposes, hence our request that your post the comments.
Letter 21 – Saucy Beauty from Costa Rica
Subject: Costa Rica Moth
Geographic location of the bug: Guanacaste Costa Rica
Time: 06:03 PM EDT
Hola, Found this little one with my son sitting on the ground outside one night. Would love if you could identify it for us. Thanks
How you want your letter signed: Brian and Mathias
Dear Brian and Mathias,
We are pretty confident this is a Tiger Moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, and we also believe it is most likely a diurnal species, but alas, we were having trouble finding a matching image. We were about to give up when we found the Saucy Beauty, Phaloesia saucia, posted to BugGuide. According to BugGuide, the range is: “Three southmost counties of Texas / south to Venezuela.”
Wow, thanks for this! My son is going to be very excited to learn this. Thanks a lot for your help
Letter 22 – Scarlet Tiger
Beautiful Moth or Butterfly
We found this beautiful moth or butterfly just sitting quietly on the lawn in the summer, but no amount of searching has yet identified it ? Very unusual – never seen one before or since.
Gareth in Gloucestershire, UK
We were relatively certain this was an Arctiid Moth, so we googled “arctiid uk” and found the Scarlet Tiger, Callimorpha dominula, identified on the UK Moth site. The site lists the adult moth as having variable coloration and markings, and your specimen has more yellow than the depicted specimens on the site. This is one of the few Tiger Moths with developed mouth parts, indicating that unlike their relatives, the adults feed on nectar.
Letter 23 – Scarlet Tiger from the UK
Location: Oxford UK
June 19, 2011 11:12 am
I think this a moth but not one I’ve seen before.
Photo taken afternoon in June 2011 in Oxford, UK, on Clematis.
I’m holding one wing out to show the red one underneath. It has a red lined body too. (Not sure why it put up with this indignity!)
Size is around 4cm long.
Signature: Tony Roberts
The best place to identify Moths from the UK is the UK Moths website, where we quickly identified your moth as a Scarlet Tiger, Callimorpha dominula. This diurnal species is relatively unique among the Tiger Moths, because, according to the UK Moths site: “It is one of the few tiger moths with developed mouthparts, allowing it to feed on nectar.”
Letter 24 – Secusio extensa, an Arctiid Moth, to be released in Hawaii to feed upon Fireweed
Hawaii Bug Article for you
December 12, 2012
Aloha from Maui –
Fighting the invasive fireweed, this bug will be released.
Thanks for keeping us informed on biological control methods being used in Hawaii.
Letter 25 – Speckled Footman Moth from Israel
Subject: Speckled moth
Geographic location of the bug: Israel
Time: 01:55 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: What is this?
How you want your letter signed: SMG
We originally posted an image of Utetheisa pulchella, a Speckled Footman Moth, in 2006, but alas, the image does not currently show live. It is pictured on this Israeli site and according to Lepidoptera and their Ecology: “Utetheisa pulchella inhabits mainly coastal dunes, rocky areas, dry slopes and other warm, gappy vegetated habitats.”
Letter 26 – Tiger Longwing from Ecuador
Subject: Ecuador Butterfly
Location: Mindo, Ecuador
November 20, 2013 8:54 am
This is my first post here. I need this butterfly which was photogaphed at Mariposas de Mindo in Ecuador ID’d.
Thanks for any help, I’m more interested in the English common name or family name than the scientific name – but any info is helpful.
Based on photos on iNaturalist, this is either a Tiger Longwing, Heliconius hecale, or a closely related species. This is a common species in butterfly habitats and we suspect they are raised on butterfly farms.
Thanks Daniel, I really appreciate it.
Letter 27 – Two Brazilian Tiger Moths
Subject: Two Tiger moths from Brazil
Location: Rio Cristalino, Brazil
October 27, 2015 11:57 am
Here are a couple of beautiful moths which I am having trouble pinning down. They were both seen at Cristalino Jungle Lodge in lower Amazonia, Brazil.
The Wasp Moth is similar to many I’ve found on the web but I have not found one where the gold stripes are vertical along the body, as in this one!
The Tiger moth looks like many similar Eucereon sp. but I have not found any with this color combination.
I look forward to your opinion.
We found a matching image to your Wasp Mimic Tiger Moth from the Subtribe Euchromiina on FlickR, that is identified as Calonotos angustipennis. We don’t know if the subtle differences represent a different species in the same genus or if it is subtle variation within the species. We located a second image on FlickR that is nearly identical to your image and Cahurel Entomologie has many similar looking species. Your second moth we have not had a chance to identify, but we will give our readership an identification challenge while we are out of the office for a few days at the end of the week.
Wow, that was fast–thank you! It certainly looks good for Calonotos angustipennis. Hope someone can ID #2 as well.
Really appreciate it!
Letter 28 – Tiger Moth Caterpillar
caterpillar found in slot canyon in central New Mexico
Did this submission come through OK the other day? I ask because I see that the update I sent about the Hop Merchant later on is now on the Web site, but the photo of this caterpillar is not. Thank you very much! Ruth
This little guy was found in mid-February in San Lorenzo Canyon, located near the town of Lemitar in the Rio Grande Valley. It was found on the underside of a rock, and was about 1-1.5 inches long. The area overall is very dry although there is a small seeping spring about 100 yards from where we spotted it. There was little or no nearby vegetation so I do not know what it would eat. Its hair-sprouting blobs look something like those of the satin moth, but the pattern and coloration are very different. Someone on BugGuide suggested Harrisina, but this one is bigger and much hairier than that, and we saw no other caterpillars with it – not to mention there’s a distinct lack of grapevines in its neighborhood. 🙂 Of course it might have recently arrived there by hitchhiking or falling from the top of the canyon, rather than being native to the vicinity. I checked out all the images of caterpillars on your terrific site but saw nothing that quite resembled him. In particular, his yellow bands with orange blobs sprouting dark hairs are pretty distinctive. Any ideas? Thank you very much!
With the amount of mail we get, the time needed to do research and postings, and the fact that things like jobs interfere with our quality website time, we just cannot answer every letter. Additionally, we do not recognize this caterpillar. We will post it and see what happens.
I have an ID on the caterpillar I submitted last week. Thanks to the folks at NMSU’s Arthropod Museum, I now know that he is a Dysschema howardi, the largest tiger moth found in New Mexico.
Letter 29 – Unknown Arctiid from British Virgin Islands is Empyreuma anassa
Wasp Mimic Moth from BVI
January 27, 2010
I think this may be a Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth, Empyreuma affinis, but with much darker upper wings and black body compared to the more familiar examples with bright red wings and iridescent blue body. Is this perhaps the male?
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
We agree that this is some species of Arctiid, but we do not believe it to be the Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth, despite the similarities. Perhaps it is another species in the same genus. We will write to Julian Donahue, and expert in the Arctiids, to see if he is able to provide an identification.
A recent revision of Empyreuma has made E. affinis (type locality: Cuba) and some other named taxa synonyms of E. pugione (type locality St. Thomas, Virgin Islands). E. pugione is the only species of Empyreuma known from the Virgin Islands.
The only other species currently placed in Empyreuma is E. anassa from Jamaica.
Julian P. Donahue
Update: February 4, 2010
I read Julian Donahue’s comments and compared an image of Empyreuma anassa at
with my photo. They appear to be the same species. So, if that is so, E. pugione = E. affinis is not the only Empyreuma known from the Virgin Islands.
We love that the Moths of Jamaica website has the same background color as our own website. When we first clicked the link, we thought we went to What’s That Bug? for a brief moment.