Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eight-Spotted Forester

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.

8 comments:

  1. What a super looking Moth,superb Images.
    John.

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  2. Thanks JRandSue, I appreciate the compliment.

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  3. i found one of these caterpillars on some other plant eating away at it! it isn't a Virginia creeper and defiantly not a grape vine! and i know it is an 8 spotted forester caterpillar. so it kind of confused me. do you think it is possible that the mama moth mistaken the plant for one of the host plants?

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  4. wow. i found one of these on the wild grapevine in our backyard in Barnhart (Jefferson Co., MO). we have the caterpillar in my nephew's bug house, and keep putting fresh grape leaves in every day. now that i know what it is, i'm going to set it free so it can pupate correctly when it's time. my nephew or i will have to find another caterpillar to coax into pupal stage in his house.
    i thought luna moths were the prettiest moths, but these little guys are gorgeous, too! Thanks for the info and keep it up.

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  5. Thanks for all of the info on this little beauty. I spied one in my flower garden while watering yesterday late afternoon. I was able to get quite close, and while the vivid colors gave the look of a butterfly, the fuzzy legs let me know that the little critter was probably a moth. I live in southwest lower Michigan and I don't recall seeing one of these before.
    Thanks again for helping me to ID this wonderful moth.

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  6. Just took a picture of one of these moths (in central MO) and searched google images. I'd never seen one before, beautiful!! We have several wooded acres with virginia creeper and large old hardwoods, this moth was feeding on locust tree blossoms alongside a variety of large and small bees, so I kept my distance!! :) Thank you for the information. I'll add my photo to my butterfly and moth "collection".

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  7. It does seem rare, but only discovered the moth parked on a piece of wood, so outstanding when it is just sitting there, fluttering about in the summer perhaps is its camouflage.

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  8. I have to say this was the most pleasat and "social" moth I've ever encountered. He got in through a window and hung around for a day before I decided to put him outside. I put my finger up to him and instead of fluterring to get away he just strutted onto my finger. I was carrying a small empty dog water bowl and we walked across my hand and found and enjoyed a nice big droplet of water before we reached the front door. I put my hand next to porch railing and touched him to shoo him off and again he just calmly walked off my hand over to the railing. Very pretty moth and a cute little encounter

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