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The giant leopard moth or eyed tiger moth (Hypercompe scribonia) is a moth of the family Erebidae. They are distributed through North America from southern Ontario, and southern and eastern United States through New England, Mexico and down to Panama.[2] The obsolete name Ecpantheria scribonia is still occasionally encountered.

Giant leopard moth
Giant leopard moth hypercompe scribonia 3.jpg

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Genus: Hypercompe
H. scribonia
Binomial name
Hypercompe scribonia
(Stoll, 1790)
  • H. s. scribonia (Stoll, 1790)
  • H. s. denudata (Slosson, 1888)
  • Bombyx chryseis
    Olivier, 1790
  • Phalaena scribonia
    Stoll, 1790
  • Phalaena oculatissima
    J.E. Smith, 1797 (unjustified emendation)
  • Bombyx cunegunda
    Palisot de Beauvois, 1824
  • Ecpantheria confluens
    Oberthür, 1881
  • Ecpantheria denudata
    Slosson, 1888
  • Ecpantheria scribonia

This species has a wingspan of 76 mm (3 in). The wings of this moth are bright white with a pattern of neat black blotches, some solid and some hollow. The overside of the abdomen is dark blue with orange markings, while the underside is white with solid black spots, and males have a narrow yellow line on the sides. Their legs have black and white bands. Adult moths are strictly nocturnal and do not generally fly before nightfall.[3]

This species has a notable sexual dimorphism in size, the adult male reaching about 51 mm (2 in) in length, while the adult female grows up to 30 mm (1.2 in). During mating sessions, the wings of the male cover most of the female's abdomen, and this can sometimes lead up to loss of wing scales in the female, which can have negative effects on its flight efficiency.[4] Their mating sessions are notably long-lasting, taking more than 24 hours. They stay mostly immobile during the whole process but will move from spot to spot to thermoregulate, walking into shadowy areas if it is too hot or into sunlight if it is too cold. The male is the one that effectuates the locomotion, while the female folds her legs to be easier to carry.

The caterpillar is of the "woolly bear" kind, with a thick coat of black bristles (setae) and red or orange bands between its segments, which become conspicuous when the caterpillar rolls into a ball for defense. Like the banded woolly bear, its hairs are not urticant and do not typically cause irritation.


Recorded food plantsEdit

The caterpillar eats a variety of broadleaf plants such as broadleaf plantains, dandelions and violets:



  1. ^ Poole, Robert W.; Patricia Gentili (1996). "Hypercompe scribonia". NatureServe. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  2. ^ [1] Distribution map at DiscoverLife
  3. ^ Fullard, James H. & Napoleone, Nadia (2001). Diel flight periodicity and the evolution of auditory defences in the Macrolepidoptera. Animal Behaviour 62(2): 349–368. doi:10.1006/anbe.2001.1753 PDF fulltext Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [2], Scoble, M.J. (2005). The Lepidoptera: Form, Function, and Diversity. Page 63. Accessed through Google books on 21 Aug 2009

External linksEdit