Home / Saturniidae Moth (Saturniidae) / Sheep Moth (Hemileuca eglanterina)

Sheep Moth (Hemileuca eglanterina)

The sheep moth is a member of the family of Saturniid moths. It earned its name because it was seen in pastures where sheep were found grazing.

This moth has a close similarity to the Nuttall’s sheep moth.

Scientific Classification


  • Family: Saturniidae
  • Genus: Hemileuca
  • Scientific Name: Hemileuca eglanterina

Sheep Moth

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Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The larvae are black with an orange-brown head. Their body is covered with spines that are initially yellow but become orange when they mature.

Sheep Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

Once fully grown, the larvae pupate in loose cocoons either in the leaf litter or in burrows in soft soil. If they are present at higher elevations, the pupation period may last for 2 years.

Sheep Moth Pupa

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent

Color and Appearance

Forewing: When the wings are open, they are pink with a yellow streak in the middle and with black bands, though they are not always present. When closed, the patterns remain similar.

Hindwing: When they are open, the wingsare yellowish with variable black markings. When closed, the color is still observed, even though the patterns are not.

Average wingspan: 5.5-8.5 cm

Flight pattern: Flies fast and close to the ground

Season: Summer

Western Sheep Moth

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Egg

Eggs are laid in rings on the stems of the host plant by the females after mating.

Sheep Moth Eggs

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Quick Facts

Others NameCommon Sheep Moth, Western Sheep Moth
DistributionWestern North America, including the Rocky Mountains west to Pacific, from Southern California to southern Canada, west to the crest of the Sierras in California, Sacramento Delta in San Joaquin Valley, and the mountains of southern California.
HabitatMountains, meadows
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsBitterbrush, bitter cherry, currant, mountain lilac, mountain-mahogany, snowberry, wild rose, and willow  
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • French lepidopterist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Déchauffour de Boisduval first described this species in 1852.
Sheep Moth Picture

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Hemileuca eglanterina

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Common Sheep Moth

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