virgin tiger moth

(Apantesis virgo)

virgin tiger moth
Photo by Bobbi Johnson
  Hodges #

8197

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Virgin tiger moth is a medium-sized moth but the largest moth in the genus Apantesis. It occurs in the United States from Maine to Georgia west to North Dakota and Nebraska, and in southern Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia. It is found in open hardwood forests, moist meadows, and other open areas. Larvae feed on a wide variety of low-growing herbaceous plants, including clover, lettuce, and plantain. Adults do not feed.

Adults are 1516 to 1716 (24 to 37 mm) in length and have a wingspan of about 2¼ (56 mm). The thorax is striped black and buff or creamy-buff. The abdomen is orange to orangish-pink with a large black spot on the upper side of each segment (middorsal).

The wings are held over the body like a roof when at rest. The male forewing length averages (22.2 mm). The forewing is black with pale, yellowish-buff to creamy-buff markings. The veins, lines, discal spot, leading edge (costal margin), inner margin, and fringe are all pale. The media vein (M) is wider than the anal vein (A). The antemedial (AM) band is usually absent, sometimes represented by a slightly pale bar along the vein on the costal margin (costa). There is a bent transverse line at the end of the discal cell. The postmedial (PM) and subterminal (ST) bands are bold lines.

The hindwing is pink to orangish pink, rarely yellow, with somewhat variable black markings. There is always a costal and anal spot, and well-developed PM and ST spots. There is almost always a well-developed discal spot. The PM and ST spots are not joined except near the margin at the anal angle.

The antennae are black. On the male they are feathery, with extensions along both sides of the shaft (bipectinate). The antennae on the female are slender and thread-like.

The above description refers to the nominate subspecies A. v. virgo, the only subspecies that occurs in Minnesota. The southeastern subspecies A. v. gigas is much larger, the male forewing length averages 1316 (29.2 mm), and the hindwing colors are brighter and more saturated.

Caterpillars in the genus Apantesis are difficult to identify to the species level.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 1516 to 1716 (24 to 37 mm)

Wingspan: about 2¼ (56 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open hardwood forests, moist meadows, and other open areas

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year: June to mid-July

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

The wings are held over the body like a roof when at rest. When threatened, the wings are spread, exposing the pink underwings, and presenting a more intimidating display.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Caterpillars overwinter

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

A wide variety of low-growing herbaceous plants, including clover, lettuce, and plantain.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Adults do not feed.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 71, 75.

 
  8/6/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Noctuoidea (owlet moths and allies)  
 

Family

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

Subfamily

Arctiinae (tiger moths and allies)  
 

Tribe

Arctiini (tiger moths)  
  Subtribe Arctiina  
 

Genus

Apantesis  
       
 

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.

Until recently, this species was placed in the genus Grammia.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

virgin tiger moth (Apantesis virgo gigas)

virgin tiger moth (Apantesis virgo virgo)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Bombyx virgo

Euprepia virgo var. citrinaria

Grammia virgo

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

virgin tiger moth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Antemedial (AM) line

A thin line separating the basal area and the median area of the forewing of Lepidoptera.

 

Costa

On ferns: The central axis of a pinna, to which pinnules are attached. On mosses: the central axis (midvein) of a leaf. On insects: The vein on the leading edge of the forewing.

 

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Postmedial (PM) line

A thin line separating the median area and the postmedial area of the forewing of Lepidoptera.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Bobbi Johnson

 
 

seen in our yard

 
    virgin tiger moth      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Virgin Tiger Moth - Hodges#8197 (Grammia virgo)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Virgin Tiger Moth - Hodges#8197 (Grammia virgo)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Virgin Tiger Moth (Arctiidae: Grammia virgo)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Jul 7, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (07 July 2010).

 
  Virgin Tiger Moth (Grammia virgo) - Insect Rescue
Lake Superior Lycan
 
   
 
About

Jul 22, 2020

I save a beautiful moth from drowning and dry it out so it can fly away at the best beach on Lake Superior.

The Virgin Tiger moth have been in an evolutionary battle with bats regarding their echolocation and how quick they react to the sounds of a bat ( 40 to 100 milliseconds). The virgin tiger moth has very developed hearing of high frequency sounds and even created their own ultrasonic sounds to outsmart the bats hearing capabilities. These moths are beautiful but it is also a warning of its awful taste to predators. If handled improperly they will secret a yellow pungent liquid from its head or shoulder area, I’m glad it didn’t do that to me! They are a very interesting insect and have a last ditch effort of surviving a bat attack by flying erratically or just falling from the air.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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  Bobbi Johnson
7/10/2021

Location: Silver Bay, MN

seen in our yard

virgin tiger moth

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Created: 8/6/2021

Last Updated:

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