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Polka-Dot Wasp Moth (Syntomeida epilais)

Polka-Dot Wasp Moth
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Polka-dot wasp moth of the Erebidae family is a native of the Caribbean Islands. The polka-dotted pattern on the wings and abdomen makes them appear increasingly attractive, also being an outcome of their name. The larvae of this species mostly thrive on oleander plants, giving them their alternate name, oleander.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Erebidae
  • Genus: Syntomeida
  • Scientific Name: Syntomeida epilais

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Polka Dot Wasp Moth Caterpillar
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The polka-dot wasp larvae appear light or dark orange and covered in black hair rising from bumpy projections in their bodies. However, the hairs are not urticating, not causing pain or any other harm when touched.

They feed voraciously on the oleander plants, particularly the shoots and leaves, turning them to light brown.

Pupa

Polka Dot Wasp Moth Pupa
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Polka Dot Wasp Moth Cocoon
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They appear smooth and brown, mostly found in clusters near tree trunks, covered in a hairy silken cocoon.

Adult

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent

Both the sexes have close similarities when it comes to appearance.

Color and Appearance

When opened, the forewings and hindwings have a dark metallic blue coloration with white polka dots all over. When closed, the color remains unchanged, with a lesser number of dots visible.

Syntomeida epilais
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The same blue and white combination is seen on their upper abdomen also. However, the abdominal tip appears bright red or orange.

Average Wingspan: 4.5 – 5.1 cm

Flight Pattern: Consistent

Season: All-year-round

Eggs

Polka Dot Wasp Moth Eggs
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The spherical eggs are pale cream or right yellow, occurring in clusters in the oleander leaves’ undersides. They are tiny, having a diameter lesser than 1 mm.

Quick Facts

Other NamesOleander moth
DistributionCaribbean Islands, and also parts of North America (Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Mississippi)
HabitatMostly near areas where the oleander plant grows
PredatorsNot recorded
Lifespan of Adults5 – 10 days
Host PlantsOleander, as well as desert rose, and devil’s potato plants
Adult DietDon’t feed due to their short lifespan

Did You Know

  • The two subspecies of the polka-dot wasp moth include Syntomeida epilais epilais and Syntomeida epilais jucundissima .
  • They mimic the dangerous wasps, and in this way, safeguard themselves from their prey. Yet, these moths are not as harmful as the wasp species they resemble. 
Polka Dot Wasp Moth Image
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Oleander Moth
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Polka-Dot Wasp Moth Picture
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