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Spanish Moth (Xanthopastis timais)

The Spanish Moth, or convict caterpillar as known as a larva, is a member of the family of noctuid moths. It is incredibly colorful, with both the adult and larval stages having a unique appearance.

Spanish Moth

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Scientific Classification


  • Family: Noctuidae
  • Genus: Xanthopastis
  • Scientific Name: Xanthopastis timais

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The larvae are black, covered with white bands. Its head, prolegs, and rump are orange. There are two eyespots on the head and posterior end, respectively. It goes through 6 instars and 17 days of feeding, measuring about 5 cm.

Convict Caterpillar

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Spanish Moth Caterpillar

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Pupa

It is black, similar to other noctuid moths. This stage lasts for 19 days.

Spanish Moth Pupa

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Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance: Its body is black and hairy.  

Forewing: When the wings are opened, they appear rosy-pink and black, with the orange spots along the wings’ veins being more prominent. When the wings are closed, the colors and patterns are less visible but darker in tone.

Hindwing: When the wings are opened and closed, they have a pale grayish color.

Average wingspan: 39–45 mm

Flight pattern: January to early June; September to December

Season: Not recorded 

Xanthopastis-timais

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Egg

They are yellow and round, with several hundred of them laid under the leaves of host plants in every cluster.

Spanish Moth Eggs

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Quick Facts

Other NamesConvict caterpillar (larval form)
DistributionSouth and Central America, the Caribbean, and northern Argentina
HabitatVariable
PredatorsBirds
Lifespan of Adults8-10 days
Host PlantsFigs, spider lily, hibiscus, daffodils
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

This moth was previously recorded in North America, but those appearances have been attributed to Xanthopastis regnatrix, a different species.

Spanish Moth Picture

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Spanish Moths

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Spanish Moth Image

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