Virginian tiger moth

(Spilosoma virginica)

               
Hodges #

8137

Virginian tiger moth
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Widespread and common

Flight/Season

Two generations. May to November

Habitat

Woodlands, forests, fields, gardens.

Size

Wingspan: 1¼ to 2

Total Length: to 1

 

 

        Photo by Tom Baker

Identification

This is a common medium-sized tiger moth. The adult is to 1 long and has a wingspan of 1¼ to 2.

The thorax is densely covered with long white hairs. The abdomen is white and yellowish-orange with an upper (middorsal) and two lateral longitudinal rows of black spots.

The wings are pure white. The forewing usually has one to three small black dots more or less in a line; one near the base along the antemedial line, one near the end of the discal cell, and one closer to the margin. Any or all of them may be absent. The hindwing usually has more and larger black spots; a spot in the discal area, and a row of spots in the postmedial area.

The head is white. The antennae are feathery, with extensions along both sides of the shaft (bipectinate).

The forelegs are yellowish-orange and black, the other legs white and black.

This tiger moth is most easily recognized when in the caterpillar stage. The caterpillar is densely covered from head to rear with long, orange or yellow, occasionally white, red, or black, hairs (setae). The setae are in clusters of several dark, short hairs and a single light, much longer hair. The longest hairs are more than three body segments in length. There is a small breathing hole (spiracle) surrounded by a white oval on both sides of each thoracic segment and all but the last abdominal segment. There are yellow markings on the abdomen. Mature caterpillars are found from May through November.

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

A wide variety of trees, shrubs, and low-growing plants.

 
Adult Food

 

 
Life Cycle

The female extrudes an organ that emits a pheromone. Males are attracted by the scent of the pheromone. After mating, the female lays groups of 20 to 100 yellow eggs on the underside of a leaf. The caterpillar feeds for a short time and then spins a cocoon. After two or three weeks in the cocoon it emerges as an adult. The last generation in a year overwinters as larvae. Caterpillars are discovered by humans most often in the fall, when they are searching for a suitable location to hibernate.

 
Behavior

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 21, 29, 75.


Comments

 


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:

Arctiinae (tiger moths)

 

Tribe:

Arctiini

 

Subtribe:

Phaegopterina

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

Virginian tiger moth

yellow bear (caterpillar)

yellow woollybear (caterpillar)

yellow woolly bear (caterpillar)

yellow woollybear moth


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

seta

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

 

spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
Share your photo of this insect.

Natures helper


Hungry for water lily.

  Virginian tiger moth    

Vickie Johnson


  Virginian tiger moth    

Tom Baker


  Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   

Caterpillar

  Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Yellow woolly bear caterpillar
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Yellow woolly bear caterpillar  
 
About

Larvae of the Virginia Tiger Moth

Spilosoma virginica

adult:

bugguide.net/node/view/498

 
     
  Virginia Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Virginia Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)  
     
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)
Bill Keim
 
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)  
     
  Spilosoma virginica (Virginian Tiger Moth)
Allen Chartier
 
  Spilosoma virginica (Virginian Tiger Moth)  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
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Other Videos

 
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Caterpillar
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 20, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (20 August 2010). Go here to learn more about this species: http://bugguide.net/node/view/498

 
     
  Yellow Wooly Bear Caterpillar - Spilosoma virginica
Patricia Lane Evans
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 11, 2012

Spotted this wooly bear caterpillar crawling quickly across a rock near the Art Barn on Star Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire on August 5, 2012. It was on the move and most likely searching for a suitable place to hibernate. I believe this is a Yellow Wooly Bear Caterpillar. I have submitted an image of it to BugGuide.net for confirmation. :-)

 
     
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Caterpillar
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 28, 2009

Photographed near Mekinock, North Dakota (27 July 2009).

 
     
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Lateral View
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 8, 2011

Photographed at Fisher, Minnesota (07 August 2011). Thank you to Paul Dennehy (@Bugguide.net) for confirming the identity of this specimen!

 
     
  Orange woolly bear crawling
Bug of the Week
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 5, 2013

An orange woolly bear, larva of the tiger moth Spilosoma virginica, busily crawls through tall grass.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this insect.

Natures helper
9/25/2015

Hungry for water lily.

Virginian tiger moth


Vickie Johnson
9/17/2015

Location or County: Victoria BC

Virginian tiger moth


Tom Baker
9/3/2011

 

Virginian tiger moth


Tom Baker
8/31/2011

 

Virginian tiger moth


     
     
 

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