Usually when I see a drab brown moth on the wall I don’t get too excited because the different kinds tend look alike even to a trained entomologist. If you can’t identify something, it’s hard to learn much about it.
This moth caught my eye, however, because I do know what it is. There’s no mistaking the fuzzy front legs and …
the tufts of hairs on the antennae. It’s a bougainvillea caterpiller moth, Asciodes gordialis. The antennal tufts means it’s a male.
It probably was attracted to our porch light the night before and was resting during the day.
If you remember, I raised one of these back in June. Discovering this one was like spotting an old friend.
Did you find any insects you recognized this week?
Our little green caterpillar from past posts has revealed his identity. He is a male bougainvillea caterpiller moth, Asciodes gordialis. Although I originally thought he might be a pyralid caterpillar, he turns out to belong to the family Crambidae.
You can tell its a male by the dark tufts mid-way up the antennae and the dense fringe of hairs on the front legs.
You can see the fringe of hairs on the front legs better in this view.
Unfortunately, circumstances weren’t the best for taking good photos. For some excellent quality photographs of a male bougainvillea caterpiller moth, see Jim Burns Photos.
Bougainvillea Caterpiller Moth Life Cycle
Let’s recap what we discovered over the last few weeks (with links to past blog posts.)
The caterpillar feeds on and hides in rolled up bougainvillea leaves.
Bougainvilleas are brightly-colored shrubs that flower throughout the summer in Arizona.
The color comes from the red or magenta sepals, which are not flower petals.
The true flowers are these tiny white ones. The caterpillars feed on leaves near the sepal clusters at the tips of the stems.
The caterpillar is green with a bit of mottling on its head capsule.
Looking closer, it was easy to see the breathing tubes or trachea through the the caterpillar’s clear exoskeleton. The dark green line down the back is its heart.