The giant leopard 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 south to Colombia.[2][3] The obsolete name, Ecpantheria scribonia, is still occasionally encountered.

Giant leopard moth

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Erebidae
Subfamily: Arctiinae
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

They are known to be attracted to bitter, unripe vegetables and broccoli flowers

This moth species has a wingspan of 76 mm (3 in). Its wings 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.[4]

This species has a notable sexual dimorphism in size, with the adult male reaching about 51 mm (2 in) in length, while the adult female grows up to 30 mm (1.2 in). In Missouri, adults are on the wing from May to September and are multivoltine.[5] During mating sessions, the wings of the male cover most of the female's abdomen, which can sometimes lead to the loss of wing scales in the female and have negative effects on her flight efficiency.[6] Their mating sessions are notably long-lasting, taking more than 24 hours. They stay mostly immobile during the whole process, but move from spot to spot to thermoregulate, walking into shadowy areas if too hot or into sunlight if too cold. The male effectuates the locomotion, while the female folds her legs to make her 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 nor venomous and do not typically cause irritation. The moth overwinters as a caterpillar,[3] often under the bark of decaying wood.[5] The caterpillar grows to be 7.6 cm (3 in) long.[5]

Recorded food plants edit

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

Gallery edit

References edit

  1. ^ Poole, Robert W.; Patricia Gentili (1996). "Hypercompe scribonia". NatureServe. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  2. ^ [1] Distribution map at DiscoverLife
  3. ^ a b c d e Fearnley, Kirstin (29 July 2016). "Weird & Wonderful Creatures: Giant Leopard Moth". Science NetLinks. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Field Guide: Giant Leopard Moth". Missouri Department of Conservation. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  6. ^ Scoble, M.J. (1995). The Lepidoptera: Form, Function and Diversity. Natural History Museum publications. Natural History Museum. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-19-854952-9.

External links edit