Giant Leopard Moth ~ Hypercompe scribonia

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This little guy is in his ‘Don’t eat me!’ a posture that protects his underside and flashes the orange stripes, which usually mean this meal is unpalatable.

The Giant Leopard Moth or Eyed Tiger Moth (Hypercompe scribonia) various forests having host plants on which the caterpillars forage extensively. Gardens, farmlands, woodlands and public areas can be frequented by them.

Females emit pheromones that are caught by the antenna of the males that successfully locates the female for mating. When mating is over, the female gets on with the process of laying eggs.

Giant Leopard Moth

Adults fly from April to September

After the eggs are laid, the larvae come out of them which start feeding on the leaves where they emerge out of the eggs. As caterpillars, they assume the wooly bear appearance and go into hibernation for some time during the winters. But it might as well wake up for light foraging on milder days in the temperate regions. After sleeping over winter, it weaves cocoon from its body. It becomes the pupa after molting in the wake of spring. In the next few weeks, it transforms into an adult moth.

Host plants for larvae: cherries, plantains, violets, honeysuckles, magnolia, cabbage, sunflower, lilac, dandelion, pokeweed, willow, maples and other broad-leaved plants.

The dorsal aspect of the abdomen is iridescent, blue-black with orange lateral spots or occasionally orange with large blue-black spots. The legs also have iridescent, blue-black setae.

When threatened, adults ‘play possum’ and curl their abdomen to display their bright orange stripes. They also secrete a droplet of yellow, acrid fluid from the thoracic glands that is bitter tasting.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

56 thoughts on “Giant Leopard Moth ~ Hypercompe scribonia

    • I feel like after I started this blog, things started presenting themselves to be featured in my posts! I’ve never seen one before I took this photo last fall.
      I think I’m more observant now that I’m always looking for post material! Ha ha!

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  1. Neither my husband nor I have ever seen this moth. This is very interesting. Wonder why we do not have them in Arkansas, as we have all the material they eat. Believe me, I would have known if we had them, I have my camera lens trained on every insect I see. Thanks for sharing this, I think it is great to see new creatures.

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  2. This is a beautiful moth. My aunt once broke her arm trying to flee from the vecinity of a moth…and I’ve never understood her fear! I think they are quite lovely creatures. This one particularly is gorgeous.

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      • Well I am afraid that they do bite. I was bit by something in bed, and I never found out what, but it was on my thumb, on the top. There were two red round marks. They hurt, but I thought it would go away but it went up my arm, a red line and hurt. When I went to the urgent care, they said I should have come sooner. They said if the oral antibiotics did not work, I would have to get them in an IV. It did go away. But if I got bit by something, then it’s still in here.

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          • I am more afraid of the ticks than anything really. I’ve only been stung by a bee once. We have a lot of wasps here, they are everywhere. I am scared to death of those.
            We used to have a big problem with those faux lady bugs. Before I read up on them, I thought they were lady bugs, which I would never want to hurt, but I heard these ones bite. We have a lot of different bugs here as we are right behind woods.

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              • I have had them form time to time. I think there may be a very slight color difference. It’s really hard to notice but I think the ladybugs have more of a red tint. I am not sure, you would be the one to ask When I first saw them I thought they were. I never kill ladybugs or crickets, but these bugs are a pest. They usually wind up dying

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                • When I was a kid, ladybugs were always cool. If one landed on you, it was cool.
                  I don’t even know if there are any left, now that these Asian beetles have taken over.
                  I don’t see how nay kind of creature can live with all these pesticides we use. I’m sure they aren’t good for us either.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • It was fun back then, a ladybug landing on you was really cool. That was the only insect that I wasn’t afraid of besides crickets.
                  Pesticides and so many other things.
                  Who knows what’s in what we eat, drink and breathe.

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                • You’re right! The cute little ladies are cute 🐞🐞 But then those Asian imposters showed up and spoiled the party.
                  I can’t even imagine all the things we ingest on a daily basis that some politician or lobbyist tells us is ok. When a scientist says it isn’t! 🤢
                  Its just scary.

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                • I had never even heard of the Asian ones until maybe about ten years ago. Do they ruin the habitat for the ladybugs? I can’t even remember the last time I saw a real one.
                  I don’t want to think about what we are eating, drinking and breathing, and yes, those lobbyists and politicians would sell their souls for their office and the money they get.

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                • Yes, there can be balance when something stays in its native range. There are checks and balances there.
                  However, when it leaves that balance, is when things go nuts. Predators don’t know its ok to eat, the thing may reproduce easier than in its native area and have more food, places to reproduce, etc.

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                • I am thinking of the problem they are having in Florida with non-native snake species that have been released in the Everglades.
                  That is a situation where the prey has no chance. There are no predators to keep the snakes in balance. At least there are non I know of.
                  I think the snakes are pythons.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • I forgot about the boa’s, I was trying to think of the name. I knew there were a couple. I still don’t know why anyone would want a snake for a pet.
                  Whatever they need to do, to get them out of there should be attempted. I see a snake I am running as fast as I can in the opposite direction.
                  I would never want to live in Florida, visit okay, but not live.

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                • I don’t get the fascination some people have with snakes. I would run to. We have a gardner snake under the house, and the thought of it scares the hell of me. I heard they weren’t venemous for years, and now I read that they in fact do produce venom, but it’s not enough to kill you. I don’t want to take that chance.

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