This colorful moth looks like it came straight out of the 1980's with those bright orange leg-warmers it is wearing. Very few moths can compare with the beautiful day-flying Eight Spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata). They are relatively small with only a 1 1/2 inch wingspan, but what they lack in size they more than make up for in eye appeal. Their body and wings are black, there are two yellow spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hindwings....and of course those gorgeous orange tufts on their legs, that seriously look like stockings. The eight distinctive spots on their wings is where their species name came from....octomaculata literally translates into 8-spotted. Because of their habit of flying during the day, and they are brightly colored, they are often mistaken for butterflies. The adults of this species begin appearing in May, and are found throughout the summer. The female lays her eggs on grapes or Virgina creeper. I photographed this one near our garden where we have a lot of wild grape vines growing. I will have to keep my eye out for the caterpillars. I've only ever found the caterpillars a few times in the past several years, and each time they were on Virginia creeper.
Once the caterpillars reach full size they will pupate and spend the winter in this stage. They will emerge as adults the following May. This moth occurs throughout the Eastern United States and parts of Canada. The caterpillars can be a pest to grape growers and often have to be controlled chemically. They are very common throughout their range, although I usually only see one or two per year in spite of having adequate food sources around here for them. The adults nectar at various flowers along side the butterflies they are often mistaken for. If you want to attract these beauties to your yard, plant Virginia creeper or grapes and you are almost sure to find the eight-spotted forester.