Virginia ctenucha

(Ctenucha virginica)

               
Hodges #

8262

Virginia ctenucha
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Widespread and common

Flight/Season

One generation: Mid-June to late July

Habitat

Moist, open, grassy fields and meadows.

Size

Wingspan: 19 16 to 2

Total Length: 15 16to 11 16

         
          Photo by Bill Reynolds

Identification

This colorful, medium-sized moth, is the largest wasp moth in North America. The adult is 15 16to 11 16 long and has a wingspan of 19 16 to 2.

The abdomen is metallic blue. The thorax is black and metallic blue. There are yellowish-orange scales on the sides of the first section of the thorax (prothorax) forming a collar. The collar does not extend across the upper (dorsal) surface of the prothorax.

The forewings are dark grayish-brown with a metallic blue sheen at the base. The leading edge of the forewing (costa) is dark grayish-brown.

The hindwings, not visible when perched, are smaller and black. Both wings have a short fringe that is at least partially white.

The head is yellowish-orange. The antennae are feather-like with branches only on one side of most segments.

The caterpillar is to 19 16 long. The thorax and abdomen are nearly black. There is a broken, cream-colored subdorsal stripe and a broken, white, subspiracular stripe. On later instars the body is mostly hidden beneath dense tufts of long, stiff hairs (seta). Middle instar caterpillars lack these long white seta. There is a center (middorsal) row of black tufts flanked by rows of white, blond, or yellow tufts. The black tufts may be obscured by the longer flanking tufts. The head is orange to red except for a black triangular area between the eyes (frons). The abdominal leg-like structures (prolegs) are reddish. Mature caterpillars are found in May to early June and again in the fall.

 
Similar
Species

Yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) is smaller and has much narrower wings. The discal area of the hindwing is translucent. The basal half of the costa is yellow. The thorax is black. The yellowish-orange collar extends evenly across the nape of the neck.


Larval Food

Mostly grasses, but also sedges and irises.

 
Adult Food

Flower nectar

 
Life Cycle

Caterpillars overwinter beneath leaf litter or matted grass.

 
Behavior

Adults fly primarily during the day, but are also attracted to light at night.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 21, 24, 29, 71, 75.


Comments

Defense Adaptations
This and other Ctenuchid moths have three adaptations that help to protect them from predators; aposematism, sound production, and pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration.

Aposematism: The metallic blue color of the thorax and abdomen mimics wasps which may be noxious to predators.

Sound production: A specialized (tymbal), corrugated region on the third section of the thorax (metathorax) produces ultrasonic sounds which interfere with (“jam”) the sonar of moth-eating bats.

Pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration: Caterpillars acquire and retain naturally produced toxic chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) from the plants they eat.


Taxonomy

Order:

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

 

Suborder:

Glossata

 

Infraorder:

Neolepidoptera

 

Parvorder:

Heteroneura

 

No Rank:

Ditrysia

 

No Rank:

Obtectomera

 

Superfamily:

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)

 

Family:

Arctiidae (tiger moths and lichen moths)

 

Subfamily:

Ctenuchinae (wasp moths)

 

Tribe:

Ctenuchini

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

Virginia ctenucha


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

collar

In grasses: The area on the back of a grass leaf at the junction of the sheath and the blade. In moths: the array of scales on the dorsal part of the prothorax.

 

costa

In plants: The central axis of a pinna, to which pinnules are attached. In Lepidoptera: The leading edge of the forewing.

 

proleg

A fleshy structure on the abdomen of some insect larvae that functions as a leg, but lacks the five segments of a true insect leg.

 

prothorax

The first (forward) segment of the thorax on an insect, bearing the first pair of legs but not wings.

 

seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this insect.

Bill Reynolds


Virginia Ctenucha on Virgin Bower

  Virginia ctenucha    

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Middle Instar Caterpillar

  Virginia ctenucha   Virginia ctenucha
       
  Virginia ctenucha   Virginia ctenucha
       
  Virginia ctenucha    
       
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth  
 
About

Ctenucha virginica

larva:

bugguide.net/node/view/72418

 
     
  Ctenucha virginica (Virginia Ctenucha)
Allen Chartier
 
  Ctenucha virginica (Virginia Ctenucha)  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
Share your video of this insect.

     
     

Other Videos

 
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Arctiidae: Ctenucha virginica) with Mosquito
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 14, 2010

Sometimes the mosquitoes in North Dakota are so numerous that they must occasionally find places to perch on other insects. ;-) Photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (14 June 2010).

 
     
  Ctenucha Virginica moth feeding on Apocynum cannabinnum
Meena Haribal
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 30, 2009

In late June and July day flying moth Ctenucha virginca, commonly called Ctenucha moth of Arctidae are seen commonly nectaring on flowers of Asclepias. Apocynum, sweet clover etc. The blue on the head and shoulder, to me looks like hind of a frog, may be a poisonous dendrobid frog.

 
     
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Arctiidae: Ctenucha virginica) Male on Leaf
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 17, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (16 June 2010).

 
     
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Erebidae: Ctenucha virginica) on Grass
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 3, 2011

Photographed at Nisswa, Minnesota (01 July 2011).

 
     
  Virginia Ctenucha Moth, Ctenucha virginica
brainphog
 
   
 
About

Published on Feb 9, 2014

This beautiful Virginia Ctenucha Moth was in my garden feeding on some Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Splendor'.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Bill Reynolds
7/21/2006

Location: Pennington Co.

Virginia Ctenucha on Virgin Bower

Virginia ctenucha


     
     
 

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings

   


 

 

Binoculars

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2017 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.