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

Diacrisia virginica?

 
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 moth.
 

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Lucy M
       

Yellow Woolly Bear Moth (Diacrisia virginica)

  Virginian tiger moth    
       
Alison Pauley
       

Found this on a milkweed plant. Brought it home and it continued to eat on milk weed for a day or so before searching to make a coccon

  Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth
       
  Virginian tiger moth    
       
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
   
Share your video of this moth.
   

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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
   
Report a sighting of this moth.
 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Lucy M
6/19/2019

Location: Carver Co

Yellow Woolly Bear Moth (Diacrisia virginica)

Virginian tiger moth


Alison Pauley
9/16/2018

Location: Sheldon, Iowa. O'Brien County

Found on a milkweed plant in a local park.

Virginian tiger moth


Alex
9/2/2018

Location: Pelican Lake (Breezy Point), Minnesota


Vickie Johnson
9/17/2015

Location: Victoria BC

Virginian tiger moth


     
     
 
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