giant leopard moth

(Hypercompe scribonia)

giant leopard moth
Photo by Luciearl
  Hodges #


Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Giant leopard moth is a common, large, easily recognized tiger moth. It is one of the largest tiger moths in eastern North America. Males are up to 2″ long with a wingspan up to 3½″. Females are much smaller, no more than 1¼″ in length.

The thorax is white with twelve bluish-black spots. There is a tympanal hearing organ on each side of the thorax, but this is covered with hairs and is not visible from above.

The abdomen is strikingly colored but not visible when the moth is at rest. It is bright orange above with large iridescent blue and black bands in the middle (dorsally) and a row of large iridescent blue and black spots on each side (laterally).

The forewings are white with numerous glossy bluish-black spots. The spots are highly variable. They may be solid, boldly outlined with a white center, or narrowly outlined and hollow. The outer portions of the forewing lose their white scales and become translucent as the moth ages.

The caterpillar is up to 3 long and is densely covered with long stiff bristles (setae). The setae are sharply pointed and barbed. They are in clusters rising from prominently raised warts. A narrow, dull red ring between each abdominal segment is visible when the caterpillar moves or curls up into a defensive posture. There is a small breathing hole (spiracle) on both sides of each thoracic segment and all but the last abdominal segment. The spiracles are dull red.




Male Total length: up to 2″

Female Total length: up to 1¼″

Wingspan: 2¼″ to 3½″


Similar Species






One generation per year: May to June




The caterpillar hides in leaf litter or under loose bark during the day and comes out at night to feed. When threatened, it will roll up.

Adults are active at night. Male adults are attracted to light. Females are not. When threatened, they will curl up, displaying their brightly colored abdomen, and exude a yellow, acrid-smelling liquid.


Life Cycle


Almost mature caterpillars overwinter under logs and beneath bark.


Larva Hosts


Deciduous trees and a wide array of low growing herbaceous and woody plants.


Adult Food


Adults do not feed.


Distribution Map



21, 24, 29, 30, 71, 75, 82.




Common in the United States east of the Great Plains



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Noctuoidea (owlet moths and allies)  


Erebidae (underwing, tiger, tussock, and allied moths)  


Arctiinae (tiger moths and allies)  


Arctiini (tiger moths)  
  Subtribe Spilosomina  



Until recently, tiger moths and lichen moths were treated as a separate family Arctiidae. A recently published monograph (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010) contended that the Arctiidae “were more closely related to groups within the Noctuidae than to non-noctuid families.” The Arctiidae were transferred intact to the family Erebidae as a subfamily (Arctiinae). The former subfamilies are now tribes and the former tribes are now subtribes.


Subordinate Taxa


giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia denudata)

giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia scribonia)




Ecpantheria scribonia


Common Names


eyed tiger moth

fever-worm (caterpillar)

giant leopard moth

great leopard moth











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



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



An external hearing structure. In reptiles and amphibians, the circular, disk-like membrane that covers the ear opening. In insects, the membrane covering the air sac and sensory neurons. Plural: tympani.






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Giant Woolly Bear

    giant leopard moth      





  Hypercompe scribonia (Giant Leopard Moth)
Allen Chartier
  Hypercompe scribonia (Giant Leopard Moth)  



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Other Videos
  Giant Leopard Moth Hypercompe scribonia

Published on Aug 9, 2013

I found this moth in my kitchen sink. I leave the front door open so I can hear the cats while they are outside. I guess it flew in. Very pretty. The moth couldn't right himself. I hope he hasn't been in long and got too hungry or thirsty to fly. I'll check on him in the morning.

Wikipedia info

This species has a wingspan of 3 inches (nearly 8 cm). The wings of this moth are bright white with a pattern of neat black blotches, some solid and some hollow. The abdomen is dark blue with orange markings, the male has a narrow yellow line on the sides. Its legs have black and white bands. Adult moths are strictly nocturnal and do not generally fly before nightfall (Fullard & Napoleone 2001).

Hypercompe scribonia, Giant leopard moth, white moth with black spots, Large white moth with black spots, Eyed Tiger Moth,

  Giant Leopard Moth Beautiful Ultra Macro.
Ray OfMinneapolis

Published on Aug 15, 2014

Beautiful Giant Leopard Moth Ultra Macro!

Look at the black spots on this large white leopard moth. Scientific name is Hypercompe scribonia. Recorded with a Raynox DCR 250 Super Macro lens converter on a Powershot SX40HS.

  Leopard Moth (Erebidae: Hypercompe scribonia) Dorsal View
Carl Barrentine

Published on Jul 3, 2011

Photographed at Nisswa. Minnesota (01 July 2011). Thank you to 'Shotguneddie' ( for confirming the identity of this specimen!

  Leopard Moth (Erebidae: Hypercompe scribonia) Lateral View
Carl Barrentine

Published on Jul 3, 2011

Photographed at Nisswa, Minnesota (01 July 2011).

  Giant Leopard Moth ( Hypercompe Scribonia ) in East Dallas Backyard

Published on Mar 13, 2012

I came across this black and white Giant Leopard Moth in my backyard a few years ago. The orange and black markings on its body are pretty interesting.




Visitor Sightings

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  D. Kirchmann

Location: Harris, Chisago Co. MN

caterpillar found on zucchini leaf, about noon.



Location: Cass County

Found in a northern hardwoods forest on a woody shrub


Location: Lake Shore, MN

Giant Woolly Bear

giant leopard moth  






Created 9/25/2018

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