Virginian tiger moth

(Spilosoma virginica)

Virginian tiger moth
Photo by Tom Baker
  Hodges #

8137

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Virginian tiger moth is a common, medium-sized, tiger moth. The adult is to 1 long and has a wingspan of 1¼ to 2.

The thorax is densely covered with long white hairs. The abdomen is white and yellowish-orange with an upper (middorsal) and two lateral longitudinal rows of black spots.

The wings are pure white. The forewing usually has one to three small black dots more or less in a line; one near the base along the antemedial line, one near the end of the discal cell, and one closer to the margin. Any or all of them may be absent. The hindwing usually has more and larger black spots; a spot in the discal area, and a row of spots in the postmedial area.

The head is white. The antennae are feathery, with extensions along both sides of the shaft (bipectinate).

The forelegs are yellowish-orange and black, the other legs white and black.

This tiger moth is most easily recognized when in the caterpillar stage. The caterpillar is densely covered from head to rear with long, orange or yellow, occasionally white, red, or black, hairs (setae). The setae are in clusters of several dark, short hairs and a single light, much longer hair. The longest hairs are more than three body segments in length. There is a small breathing hole (spiracle) surrounded by a white oval on both sides of each thoracic segment and all but the last abdominal segment. There are yellow markings on the abdomen. Mature caterpillars are found from May through November.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 1¼ to 2

Total Length: to 1

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Agreeable tiger moth (Spilosoma congrua) abdomen is pure white with no yellow patches or black spots. The forewings usually have many small black spots. The hindwings are unspotted except for a small discal spot.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Woodlands, forests, fields, gardens.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Two generations. May to November

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The female extrudes an organ that emits a pheromone. Males are attracted by the scent of the pheromone. After mating, the female lays groups of 20 to 100 yellow eggs on the underside of a leaf. The caterpillar feeds for a short time and then spins a cocoon. After two or three weeks in the cocoon it emerges as an adult. The last generation in a year overwinters as larvae. Caterpillars are discovered by humans most often in the fall, when they are searching for a suitable location to hibernate.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

A wide variety of trees, shrubs, and low-growing plants.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 21, 29, 75.

 
  9/8/2015      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Widespread and common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Noctuoidea (noctuid moths)  
 

Family

Erebidae  
 

Subfamily

Arctiinae (tiger moths)  
 

Tribe

Arctiini  
  Subtribe Spilosomina  
 

Genus

Spilosoma  
       
 

In 2011 the family Arctiidae (tiger moths and lichen moths) was transferred to the family Erebidae mostly intact but demoted to a subfamily. The former subfamilies are now tribes, the former tribes now subtribes.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Diacrisia virginica?

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Virginian tiger moth

yellow bear (caterpillar)

yellow woollybear (caterpillar)

yellow woolly bear (caterpillar)

yellow woollybear moth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like structure on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

Spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Lucy M

 
 

Yellow Woolly Bear Moth (Diacrisia virginica)

 
    Virginian tiger moth      
 

Alison Pauley

 
  Found this on a milkweed plant. Brought it home and it continued to eat on milk weed for a day or so before searching to make a coccon   Virginian tiger moth  
    Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth  
           
 

Natures helper

 
 

Hungry for water lily.

 
    Virginian tiger moth      
 

Vickie Johnson

 
    Virginian tiger moth      
 

Tom Baker

 
    Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

Caterpillar

 
    Virginian tiger moth   Virginian tiger moth  
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Yellow woolly bear caterpillar
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Yellow woolly bear caterpillar  
 
About

Larvae of the Virginia Tiger Moth

Spilosoma virginica

adult:

bugguide.net/node/view/498

 
Virginia Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Virginia Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica)  
Spilosoma virginica (Virginian Tiger Moth)
Allen Chartier
  Spilosoma virginica (Virginian Tiger Moth)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Other Videos
 
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Caterpillar
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 20, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (20 August 2010). Go here to learn more about this species: http://bugguide.net/node/view/498

 
  Yellow Wooly Bear Caterpillar - Spilosoma virginica
Patricia Lane Evans
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 11, 2012

Spotted this wooly bear caterpillar crawling quickly across a rock near the Art Barn on Star Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire on August 5, 2012. It was on the move and most likely searching for a suitable place to hibernate. I believe this is a Yellow Wooly Bear Caterpillar. I have submitted an image of it to BugGuide.net for confirmation. :-)

 
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Caterpillar
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jul 28, 2009

Photographed near Mekinock, North Dakota (27 July 2009).

 
  Virginian Tiger Moth (Erebidae: Spilosoma virginica) Lateral View
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 8, 2011

Photographed at Fisher, Minnesota (07 August 2011). Thank you to Paul Dennehy (@Bugguide.net) for confirming the identity of this specimen!

 
  Orange woolly bear crawling
Bug of the Week
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 5, 2013

An orange woolly bear, larva of the tiger moth Spilosoma virginica, busily crawls through tall grass.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Lucy M
6/19/2019

Location: Carver Co

Yellow Woolly Bear Moth (Diacrisia virginica)

Virginian tiger moth  
  Alison Pauley
9/16/2018

Location: Sheldon, Iowa. O'Brien County

Found on a milkweed plant in a local park.

Virginian tiger moth  
  Alex
9/2/2018

Location: Pelican Lake (Breezy Point), Minnesota

   
  Vickie Johnson
9/17/2015

Location: Victoria BC

Virginian tiger moth  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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