Many people are surprised to learn that this colorful day-flying insect (pictured above) is in fact a moth, not a butterfly. The eight-spotted forester (Alypia octomaculata) is a destroyer of moth stereotypes, with it’s bold patterning of black, white, and orange; in contrast to the muted somber earth tones that characterize some other moth species. However, there are actually quite a number of stunningly beautiful moths (e.g. Cecropia moth, rosy maple moth), but these are generally less commonly known to the public. But getting back to our hero above… this audacious moth is like a butterfly in another respect, as it can be found flying around during the day, a trait uncommon amongst the moths.
Adult eight-spotted forester moths are active from late April through July in our area. The lovely individual that’s gracing our blog (photographed by Jason Ksepka) was found in a suburban area, instead of the usual forest edges that they commonly frequent. Adult moths will take nectar from flowers (like butterflies do) to give them the energy they need to fly around and search for a source of food for their young. Like most insects, they can only feed on very specific plants when they’re babies, and the eight-spotted forester caterpillars eat primarily Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), but will also sometimes feed on the closely related wild grapes (genus Vitis). So if you think these vibrant moths are beautiful (like we do!), consider planting some Virginia creeper along a fence or wall. You may just get these beautiful butterfly-like visitors.
Promoting awareness of the beauty and diversity of insects everywhere.