Virginia ctenucha

(Ctenucha virginica)

Virginia ctenucha
  Hodges #

8262

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Virginia ctenucha is a colorful, medium-sized moth. It 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.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 19 16 to 2

Total Length: 15 16to 11 16

 
     
 

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.  
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Moist, open, grassy fields and meadows.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation: Mid-June to late July

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

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

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Caterpillars overwinter beneath leaf litter or matted grass.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Mostly grasses, but also sedges and irises.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 21, 24, 29, 30, 71, 75.

 
  6/30/2019      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread and common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)  
 

Family

Erebidae  
 

Subfamily

Arctiinae (tiger and lichen moths)  
 

Tribe

Arctiini (tiger moths)  
  Subtribe Ctenuchina  
 

Genus

Ctenucha  
       
 

In 2011 the family Arctiidae (tiger moths and lichen moths) was transferred to the family Erebidae mostly intact but demoted to a subfamily. The former subfamilies are now tribes, the former tribes now subtribes.

 
       
 

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
   

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Luciearl
       
  Virginia ctenucha    
       
Dan W. Andree
       
  Virginia ctenucha    
       
Alfredo Colon
       

A beautiful Moth... from Lake Elmo Park Reserve, MN

  Virginia ctenucha   Virginia ctenucha
       
  Virginia ctenucha    
       
Bill Reynolds
       

Virginia Ctenucha on Virgin Bower

  Virginia ctenucha    
       
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Adult

  Virginia ctenucha   Virginia ctenucha
       
  Virginia ctenucha   Virginia ctenucha
       

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
   

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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
   

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Luciearl
5/23/2020

Location: Cass (Cty Rd 77)

Virginia ctenucha


adliner
6/21/2018

Location: Woodbury, MN

This moth is beautiful. It was resting on a milk weed plant in my garden


Alfredo Colon
6/10/2018

Location: Lake Elmo Park Reserve, MN

A beautiful Moth...

Virginia ctenucha


Dan W. Andree
2016

Location: Taken in an area of mixed woods near a tributary to the Wild Rice River in Norman County, Mn.

Virginia ctenucha


Bill Reynolds
7/21/2006

Location: Pennington Co.

Virginia Ctenucha on Virgin Bower

Virginia ctenucha


     
     
 
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