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Vampire Moths (Calyptra)

The vampire moth is known for its ability to pierce the skin of mammals and drink blood. The genus name is a common name for most species belonging to it.

Vampire Moths

List of Species in this Genus

  • Calyptra albivirgata
  • Calyptra bicolor 
  • Canadian Owlet Moth (Calyptra canadensis)
  • Calyptra eustrigata 
  • Calyptra fasciata 
  • Calyptra fletcheri 
  • Calyptra gruesa 
  • Calyptra hokkaida 
  • Calyptra lata 
  • Calyptra minuticornis 
  • Calyptra nyei 
  • Calyptra ophideroides 
  • Calyptra orthograpta 
  • Calyptra parva 
  • Calyptra pseudobicolor 
  • Calyptra subnubila 
  • Calyptra thalictri 

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

The larvae of different species vary considerably. For instance, Calyptra minuticornis is olive-grey and has black-bordered yellow spots all over its body. All larvae have three sets of pro-legs and are generally 3.5 cm long.

Scientific Classification


Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present. However, the differences are not prominent.

Color and Appearance

Forewings: When opened, the wings are a light brown with dark brown bands. The wings resemble dried leaves. When closed, the postmedian line becomes visible across both wings.

Hindwings: When opened, they are a grayish brown. This gray color is no longer visible when closed.

Average wingspan: 3.3-4 cm

Flight pattern: Consistent

Season: June to September

Vampire Moth

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Calyptra Moth
Calyptra Moth

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Pupa

After maturing, the larvae begin to pupate.

Egg

Male moths pass on the blood they consume to the female as a “gift” during mating. She then gives the sodium of the blood to the eggs she lays.

Quick Facts

DistributionMost species live in the Old World, including China, India, Japan, eastern Africa and Europe, southern Europe, and southeast Asia. The sole exception is the Canadian owlet moth, which inhabits Canada and the U.S.
HabitatForest edges and scrublands
Lifespan of AdultsMales: 2-3 weeks Females: 3-4 weeks
PredatorsBirds, bats
Host PlantsApples, citrus, figs, grapes, mango, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries
Adult DietPrimarily fruit juice and nectars. Only male vampire moths drink blood if available.

Did You Know

  • German entomologist Ferdinand Ochsenheimer first described this genus in 1816.
  • The proboscis of these moths developed over time to pierce and drink fruits. They use these to drink the blood from their prey as well.
  • While the bite of these moths are more severe than mosquitoes, they pose no serious threat to humans.

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