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Remember the caterpillar on the palo verde tree?

Now we have most parts of the life cycle.

Caterpillar

Pupa

 

And now  a moth!

Turns out to be the Royal Poinciana Moth, Melipotis acontioides, or a close relative. Isn't that a great common name?

It turns out that I had found a similar moth a few weeks before. I didn't try to identify it at the time because I had no idea what it's food plant was.

Knowing the food plant, plus all the stages, makes it easier to figure out an insect's identity.

Arizona naturalists have some more photographs of the same species of moth found in June 1, 2005. I first found our caterpillars May 30, 2018.

Interested in moths? Don't forget National Moth Week events, which are July 21-29, 2018.

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For National Moth Week we have a moth with an awesome name: The Tufted Bird Dropping Moth,  Cerma cerintha. It is a type of noctuid or owlet moth.

Moths are often all about camouflage and this one can do double duty.

For example if it was perched on tree bark covered with lichen and moss, it might blend right in.

On a leaf it might look like a bird dropping, as the common name suggests.

BugGuide has some photographs of the caterpillars. They feed on plants in the rose family, including pears, apples, cherries, and hawthorns.

The tufted part of the name comes from the tufts of scales on the back of the thorax and wings. The tufts aren't easy to see from a back view. Try this side view.

The tufted bird dropping moth is found in the eastern half of North America where its food plants grow. It's common, but not much is known about its biology.

Isn't it cool? Are we beginning to convince you that moths are just as interesting as butterflies?

This year tiger moths are the featured insects for National Moth Week in 2017.

Tiger and Tussock moths - Family Erebidae

The tiger moths and tussock are a diverse group and they names are in flux. In the past, the tiger moths belonged to a separate family, the Arctiidae. Now they are grouped with the Tussock moths in the family Erebidae.

The most consistent characteristic of this family is that they hold their hairy front legs outstretched when they are at rest.

Many of the subfamilies have striped or spotted wings.

The caterpillars are hairy or fuzzy.

The banded woolly bear is a tiger moth caterpillar.

hickory-tussock-moth-1This is a hickory tussock moth. See its outstretched front legs?

hickoy-tussock-moth-caterpillarTussock moth caterpillars are also hairy.

Activity suggestions:

  1. Add your tiger moth photographs to the Project Noah moth mission page and check out what others have found.
  2. Learn about the Cinnabar Moth (a type of tiger moth) at the National Moth Week blog.
  3. Download the moth coloring book (link on the Kids Page) and color the tiger moth on page 3.