Yellow Collared Scape Moth: Your Quick Guide to This Unique Species

The Yellow Collared Scape Moth is a fascinating and unique species of moth that you might have come across in your backyard or during outdoor adventures. Characterized by their black bodies and distinctive yellow or orange collar, these moths are known for their unusual behavior, as they are one of the few moth species that are active during daylight hours Arthropod Museum.

In this article, you’ll learn about the Yellow Collared Scape Moth’s appearance, its life cycle, and some interesting facts about this intriguing creature. One key aspect that sets these moths apart from others is their resemblance to wasps, which serves as a form of protection against predators Texas A&M University. So, as you read on, you’ll discover the unique characteristics that make the Yellow Collared Scape Moth a fascinating subject for those interested in the insect world.

Habitat and Range

The Yellow Collared Scape Moth is predominantly found in North America. You might come across this fascinating creature in countries like Canada and Mexico. To locate them, pay attention to specific environments.

  • Fields
  • Wet prairies
  • Lakes

As you explore these areas, you’ll likely notice the Yellow Collared Scape Moth, known for its unique daytime flying habits. Always remember to be respectful of their habitat!

Physical Characteristics and Identification

Adult Moth Features

The Yellow Collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) is a distinctive day-flying moth, easily recognizable by its unique appearance. When observing an adult moth, you’ll notice the black forewings and vibrant orange or yellow collar. Another notable characteristic is the translucent patch found in the middle of their hindwings, which can sometimes appear slightly bluish or whitish in color.

Adult moths can have a wingspan of up to 19-38 mm, and their antennae are tapered and feathery. The orange collar surrounding their body functions as a warning signal to potential predators, indicating that they may not be a suitable meal.

Larvae Features

The Yellow Collared Scape Moth undergoes various stages before maturing into an adult, with the caterpillar being a significant stage. The body of the larvae is primarily dark brown with a dark line running down their back. These caterpillars also have numerous small tubercles that bear hair tufts.

During the early stages of their life, these caterpillars tend to feed in groups, while older larvae become more solitary and can often be found feeding alone or in smaller clusters of a few caterpillars.

Scientific Classification

The Yellow-Collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) belongs to the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Arthropoda, and the class Insecta. Within the insect world, its order is Lepidoptera, and it resides in the family Erebidae, specifically in the subfamily Arctiinae, which includes tiger moths. Let’s dive into the main features of this unique moth.

You may notice the distinctive appearance of the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth, characterized by its black wings and yellow or orange collar. This colorful moth is quite unusual, as it is one of the few moths that fly during daylight. The aposematic coloring is suggestive of special protection from predators, ensuring its survival.

When talking about the larval stage, or caterpillar, of the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth, you’ll see a brownish body with a dark line down its back and hair tufts sprouting from tubercles. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, it feeds on specific plants, like goldenrod and various grasses.

Here’s a comparison table to recap the classification information:

Rank Category
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Insecta
Order Lepidoptera
Family Erebidae
Subfamily Arctiinae
Genus Cisseps
Species C. fulvicollis

In summary, the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth is an interesting species within the family Erebidae and order Lepidoptera. Its distinctive appearance and unique behavior make it stand out among other moths and insects.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Mating and Egg-Laying

During late spring, adult Yellow Collared Scape Moths (Ctenucha virginica) mate and lay their eggs. Female moths lay eggs on plants like goldenrod and sedge. The two known subspecies involved in this process are Cisseps fulvicollis fulvicollis and Cisseps fulvicollis pallens.

Caterpillar Stage

When the eggs hatch, the larvae emerge as caterpillars. These caterpillars feed on the leaves of the host plants where the eggs were laid. As they grow and move through the season, they can be found on various plants. Here are some of their characteristics in bullet points for easier identification:

  • Brownish body with a dark line down the back
  • Numerous tubercles bearing hair tufts
  • Active mainly during July-September
  • Older caterpillars tend to become more solitary or gather in small groups

Pupa to Adult Moth

After the caterpillar stage, they will form a pupa. Once the transformation is complete, an adult moth emerges with distinctive features. Below is a comparison table between Yellow Collared Scape Moths and butterflies.

Yellow Collared Scape Moth (Ctenucha virginica) Butterflies
Body Black or bluish-black body with bright orange or yellow collar Varies by species
Wings Black forewings, translucent hindwings with whitish/bluish patches Varies by species
Habitat Found on plants like goldenrod and sedge Various plants
Activity One of few moth species active during daylight, with aposematic coloration Active during the day

As you learn more about the Yellow Collared Scape Moth, you can better appreciate the unique aspects of their life cycle and behavior.

Diet and Predators

Yellow-collared scape moths (Cisseps fulvicollis) are unique insects known for their daytime activity and striking appearance. They exhibit black bodies with a distinctive yellow or orange collar, which serves as a warning to potential predators.

In terms of diet, these moths primarily feed on nectar from flowers. They have a preference for certain plants such as asters, goldenrods, and milkweeds. These flowers produce abundant nectar, offering essential nutrients to the moths.

Some predators of the yellow-collared scape moth include wasps and birds. Their bright collar serves as a warning sign indicating the moths may possess chemical defenses. As a result, predators often think twice before attacking them.

To summarize, the yellow-collared scape moth’s diet includes:

  • Nectar from flowers
  • Preferential flowers: asters, goldenrods, and milkweeds

Predators of this moth include:

  • Wasps
  • Birds

In conclusion, the yellow-collared scape moth’s diet consists primarily of nectar from flowers such as asters, goldenrods, and milkweeds. Their unique coloring and moths’ active nature during the day make for a fascinating insect.

Subspecies and Similar Species

The Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) has two known subspecies: Cisseps fulvicollis fulvicollis and Cisseps fulvicollis pallens. However, there is another moth species that looks similar and can be easily confused with the Yellow-collared Scape Moth – the Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica). In this section, we will briefly discuss the distribution, classification, and differences between these species.

Cisseps fulvicollis fulvicollis and Cisseps fulvicollis pallens belong to the same Yellow-collared Scape Moth species but display slight variation in color and markings. Both are found across the United States [^1^], but their exact distribution may vary.

While browsing the bugguide, you may encounter the Virginia Ctenucha. This moth is often mistaken for a Yellow-collared Scape Moth due to its similar appearance. To differentiate between the two, one can observe specific features:

  • Yellow-collared Scape Moths have a distinctive orange or yellow collar, while the Virginia Ctenucha has a metallic blue body.

  • Cisseps species usually fly during the day, whereas the Virginia Ctenuchas are active during dusk and night.

Let’s glance at the following comparison table to summarize their key differences:

Feature Yellow-collared Scape Moth Virginia Ctenucha
Collar Yellow or Orange Metallic Blue
Flight Time Daytime Dusk and Night

Remember, identifying the correct subspecies or similar species is essential for understanding their behavior, habitat preferences, and conservation strategies. Knowing how to differentiate them is an essential skill for moth enthusiasts and researchers alike. So keep your eyes peeled for these distinctive features when observing moths in the wild.

References and Additional Resources

To gain a deeper understanding of the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth, consider exploring these resources:

  • Check out the Missouri Department of Conservation for an insightful profile, including images of the adult and larval forms.
  • Visit the Arthropod Museum for facts about this distinctive species, particularly its ability to fly during daylight.
  • Consult Ohio State University’s MOTHS OF OHIO field guide for a comprehensive list of moth species, with Yellow-Collared Scape Moth among them.
  • Get familiar with BugGuide, which offers a wide variety of information, images, and identification help on insect species like the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth.

Here are a few key characteristics of the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth to keep in mind:

  • Adult moths have black forewings and translucent hindwings with a whitish or bluish patch.
  • The body is usually black or bluish-black, with a bright orange or yellow “collar”.
  • Larvae have numerous tubercles bearing hair tufts, and their body is brownish with a dark line down the back.

Compare the Yellow-Collared Scape Moth with other tiger moths like the Cotinis species by browsing the BugGuide database. This allows you to observe similarities and differences between their appearances, life cycles, and behaviors.

Enjoy expanding your knowledge of the fascinating Yellow-Collared Scape Moth and other insects through these resources and observations. Happy learning!

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, 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 – Edward’s Wasp Moth Caterpillar and Imago


Mystery caterpillar
Alex’s Mom here again! We love your website!!! Alex found this caterpillar performing tricks at the circus. Actually, it was climbing the chain link fence outside of Cirque du Solieu in Miami. We took him home and tried to research what kind of caterpillar it was so we could scrounge up some food for it. No luck on finding what this is, could you help? It has already formed a chrysalis within 12 hours of our bringing it home. We’re assuming that is why it was up on the chain link fence. Thanks for your help!!!
Alex and his Mom

Hi Alex and Mom,
Sorry to fail you, but we don’t recognize your little critter. It might be a Noctuid Caterpillar, and superficially resembles The Laugher, but it is a different species. We will continue to research.

(02/22/2006) mystery caterpillar emerges as mystery moth
Hi there.
We sent you a picture of a caterpillar not long ago (see attached) and we actually stumped you. So now that the moth emerged today, we wanted to send you pics to see if you could figure out what it is. My son thinks it’s the Ctenucha Virginica. Is he close?? Thank you!
Alex and his Mom

Hi Alex and his Mom,
Though your moth bears a striking resemblance to a Virginia Ctenucha, the caterpillar is very different. We believe to be a Yellow Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, a much closer caterpillar match.

Correction:  November 28, 2014
We just received a correction that this is an Edward’s Wasp Moth, and we found a matching image of the caterpillar on BugGuide and we also found an image of the adult Edward’s Wasp Moth on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Yellow Collared Scape Moth


Yellow-collared Scape Moth
Hello Folks, I hope all is well. I am surprised that this late in the year I am still able to discover new insects to photograph. I have seen several moths on your website similar to the yellow- collared scape moth that I found this morning. I did a little internet searching and found out the exact species – am I correct? Take Care,
Janet from Dundas, Ontario

Hi Again Janet,
Your Yellow Collared Scape Moth goes by the scientific name Cisseps fulvicollis. Adults can be found from May through October. They don’t die out until the killing frost.

Letter 3 – Yellow Collared Scape Moth


Subject: Identifying a beetle
Location: Hugo, MN
August 2, 2012 5:48 pm
I thought I had the attached identified as a borer, the antenna are feathery so then I thought a net-winged beetle but it eludes me. Found in northern Minnesota. I hope you can help.
Signature: Jerry

Yellow Collared Scape Moth

Hi Jerry,
Net-winged Beetle was a very good guess because they mimic some moths and this is a Yellow Collared Scape Moth,
Cisseps fulvicollisAccording to BugGuide, they are found in:  “Fields with flowers. Adults commonly seen visiting flowers during the day; adults also fly at night, and are attracted to light.”  Do you happen to know the flower in your photo?  Was it wild or in a garden?  This is our first photo of this species this year.

Thank you. This was taken by a friend of mine near a farm on wild growing flowers. I’ll let her know.

Letter 4 – Yellow Collared Scape Moth


Subject: Fly, Moth…??
Location: Lone Tree, Iowa
July 19, 2015 9:30 pm
Hi~ I took this pic in July in Lone Tree, Iowa (Louisa County). He was on a Milkweed flower in my field.
Signature: Sue

Yellow Collared Scape Moth
Yellow Collared Scape Moth

Dear Sue,
Your milkweed is being pollinated by a Yellow Collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis, which we verified with this image on BugGuide.  Just as you observed, according to BugGuide, they are commonly found in:  “Fields with flowers. Adults commonly seen visiting flowers during the day; adults also fly at night, and are attracted to light.”

Thank you So much!!!  I searched til my eyes were bleary…I didn’t know what category to look in~~he didn’t look like a ‘moth’ to me!  Thanks again!!!

The Yellow Collared Scape Moth and many of its close relatives, including the Polka Dot Wasp Moth and the Scarlet Bodied Wasp Moth, are very effective wasp mimics that derive a degree of protection by resembling stinging insects.

Letter 5 – Yellow Collared Scape Moth


Subject: Strange bug
Location: Kokomo Indiana
November 15, 2015 10:29 am
I found this bug outside my house and want to know what it is, I have never seen it before.
Signature: Allysha

Yellow Collared Scape Moth
Yellow Collared Scape Moth

Dear Allysha,
According to BugGuide, the Yellow Collared Scape Moth,
Cisseps fulvicollis,:  “Adults fly from May to October or first hard frost” which explains this late season sighting.

Letter 6 – Yellow Collared Scape Moth, NOT Virginia Ctenucha


Ctenucha cressonana found in Western Illinois (Quad Cities)? Hi!
My son spotted a beautiful moth on our windowpane, so we too a photo of it (attached) and tried to find out what kind of moth it is. When I looked on the Internet the closest moth would be in the Ctenucha family – Orange head, Blue iridescent body, brownish wings. It doesn’t appear that this moth has been recorded in this area (if indeed I was able to identify it correctly) so I am contacting you in efforts to : a.) identify the moth and b) record the siting if this is a ‘first time’ observance. Whatever the outcome, I’d appreciate any feedback so I can work with my son Ivan re: his potential ‘new discovery’. Thanks –
Mary Stayner
Moline , IL

Hi Mary,
You did a very good job of researching your discovery, taking the identification to the genus level. Ctenucha cressonana is a western species. Your moth looks to us like the Virginia Ctenucha, Ctenucha virginica. BugGuide does not list any submissions from Illinois. Ironically, BugGuide does not list submissions from Virginia either. Illinois would be within the range of the Virginia Ctenucha, but as to whether there have been reports from your county, you will need to check with state officials.

Correction: We goofed
Hi again!
I looked a little closer – I think it’s actually a Cisseps fulvicollis. Thanks for your earlier quick response!
Mary Stayner

Hi again Mary,
You caught us in a mistake. BugGuide notes that: “This species and the Virginia Ctenucha are probably Batesian mimics of wasps or perhaps distasteful beetles. Many of these moths were shot feeding on Eupatorium spp., a genus rich in pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which are toxic to most predators. “

Letter 7 – Yellow Collared Scape Moths: Mating and Waiting!!!


Moth identification
Attached are pics of two moths. Please help me with the identification.
Cory Walters
Grissom ARB, IN

Hi Cory,
When we read your message, we didn’t realize the moths were attached to each other. These mating moths are Yellow Collared Scape Moths, Cisseps fulvicollis. The moths are wasp mimics. BugGuide has additional information.


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    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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