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Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)

Giant Leopard Moth
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Giant leopard moth of the Erebidae family has an extensive range covering the whole of North America. It is found in the southern part of Ontario to the south and the eastern U.S., touching the borders of New England, Mexico, and finally Central America’s Panama. Its former name Ecpantheria scribonia obsolete at present is used occasionally.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Hypercompe
  • Scientific Name: Hypercompe scribonia

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar
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Giant Leopard Moth Larvae
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The caterpillar looks like a woolly bear with its thick coat covered with black bristles. The abdominal segments are dark brown with orange or red shades in between. The orange bands get more prominent when the larva rolls to a ball to defend itself from predators.

Pupa

Giant Leopard Moth Cocoon
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The pupae have a black body with reddish-brown spiracles. The cocoons they are enclosed in are thin and yellow, looking like a net.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When opened, the wings are white with solid and hollow black blotches. When closed, the pattern is the same, with most of the dots being hollow, while those to the sides remain solid.

It has a dark blue abdomen with orange markings on the overside and white with black spots on the undersides.

The difference between males and female are prominently visible as the former reach a length of 5.1 cm, while the latter is 3 cm long. The males even have yellow lines to the sides of their abdomen.

Hypercompe scribonia
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Great Leopard Moth
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Wingspan: 7.6 cm

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: April – September

Eggs

Giant Leopard Moth Eggs
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The eggs are pearl gray and spherical, with a diameter of about 0.8 mm.

Quick Facts

Other NamesGreat leopard moth, eyed tiger moth
DistributionMassachusetts, southern Ontario, Florida, Michigan, Texas, New England, Missouri
HabitatWoodlands, scrublands, parks, and gardens
Predators 
Lifespan of adultsNot recorded
Host plantsBougainvillea,  Brassica, Brugmansia, Cannabis, Citrus, Dioscorea, Euphorbia, Helianthus, Lagerstroemia, Lettuce, Lonicera, Morus, Magnolia,  Musa, Persea, Viola, Salix, Syringa, Ricinus, Robinia  
Adult dietsNectar

Did You Know

  • Their big size and snow-leopard like pattern, of white and black, earn them their name.
  • Though the caterpillars resemble woolly worms because of their hairy appearance, they are not harmful like the latter.
Eyed Tiger Moth
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Giant Leopard Moth Image
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Giant Leopard Moth Pictures
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