Minnesota Moths

Order Lepidoptera

Lepidoptera is the order of insects that is characterized by having four large wings; mouthparts adapting for sucking, the proboscis in the form of a long coiled tube; and wings and body completely or mostly covered by scales. The order includes butterflies, skippers, and moths.

There are about 174,250 known species in 126 families worldwide, 12,423 species in 82 families in North America north of Mexico. There are at least 531 Lepidoptera species found in Minnesota.

No Taxonomic Rank: Moths

Differentiating moths and butterflies is complicated because on the tree of evolution (phylogenetically) butterflies are moths. There are 4 suborders and 44 superfamilies of Lepidoptera. Moths comprise three suborders and all but two superfamilies in in the fourth suborder, Glossata.

Moths have feathery or or thread-like antennae without knobs at the end. When at rest, moths hold their wings roof-like over their body, curled around their body, or flat against a support. All other differences have exceptions. Most moths fly at night, are smaller, and have drab wings. Most moths have one or more bristles (frenulum) and scales (retinaculum) that hold their forewings in contact with their hindwings. No butterflies have this feature.

About 93% of Lepidoptera species are moths. According The Lepidopterist’s Society, there are about 127,600 moth species worldwide, about 10,850 species in North America. There may also be between 1,500 and 3,500 undescribed species, mostly micromoths (Microlepidoptera). There are at least 370 moth species found in Minnesota.

cecropia moth








Recent Additions

Sigmoid prominent

Sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma) is a medium-sized, heavy-bodied, nocturnal moth. It is the most common of the four Clostera species found in Minnesota. Adult moths are found from mid-May to mid-August in deciduous woodlands and forests, and in shrubby wetlands and fields.

A sigmoid prominent adult has grayish-brown wings, a dark brown head and upper thorax, and on the male, a dark brown tuft at the end of the abdomen. The wings are crossed by four pale lines. A dark, chestnut-brown area near the end of the forewing is sharply delineated by a prominent white “S”-shaped bar. The species name albosigma means “white S” and refers to this marking. Spring individuals are darker with more highly contrasting markings. Summer individuals are paler and less conspicuously marked.

The caterpillar feeds mostly on quaking aspen, but also on poplar and willow, and sometimes on alder, birch, maple, and elm. It is a solitary feeder. During the day it curls up a leaf of a host plant and sticks it together with silk webbing, make a shelter where it can feed in safety. Adults do not feed.

  sigmoid prominent
  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Pink underwing

Pink underwing (Catocala concumbens) is a medium to large sized, strikingly colored, underwing moth. It is common from northeastern United States, west to the Upper Midwest, and north to Manitoba and Alberta. In Minnesota it is more common in the northern half of the state.

Pink underwing adults are 1¼ to 1½ in length and have a wingspan of 2 to 3. The forewings are a nondescript, mottled gray and tan with a pale, kidney-shaped spot and two thin, jagged, black lines. The hindings are pink two black bands and a wide white fringe. They are active at night. When at rest the wings are folded roof-like over the body. When approached or disturbed they spread their forewings revealing the startling color of the hindwings, possibly to scare off or give it time to escape a predator.

There are 39 underwing moth species found in Minnesota, and most are similar in appearance. Pink underwing is distinguished by the pale colors and paler reniform spot on the forewings; and by the pink hindwings with a wide, straight, uninterrupted, white fringe.

  pink underwing
  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Arcigera flower moth

Arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera) is common and widespread across North America from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. In Minnesota, it is found from late July to mid-September in fields with asters.

It is active at night and is attracted to light, but can be also found taking nectar on flowers during the day.

This is a small owlet moth. The adult is about ½ long and has a wingspan of to 1. It is distinguished from similar moths by dark brown and pale brown coloration, and by a white, smoothly curved, broadly S-shaped postmedial line.

  arcigera flower moth

Toothed somberwing

Toothed somberwing (Euclidia cuspidea) is common and widespread across North America from the east coast to the Rocky Mountains. In Minnesota, it is found from mid-May to early July in meadows and in woodland edges and openings with long grass.

It is active both day and night. When flushed from vegetation it flies rapidly for about 20 yards then drops to the ground. It rests with the wings held flat and the hindwings usually concealed. It is attracted to light.

This is a stout, medium-sized moth. The adult is about long and has a wingspan of 1 to 17 16. It is distinguished from similar moths by dark brown triangular spots on the forewing of the adult, and by the presence of reduced leg-like structures on the fourth abdominal segment of the caterpillar.

  toothed somberwing

Robin’s carpenterworm, A Very Large Micromoth

Micromoth is an artificial grouping having no taxonomic equivalent. The name suggests that these are small moths, and indeed most have a wingspans of less than ¾. However, micromoths are not distinguished by size but by wing venation and the female reproductive tract.

Carpenterworms are wood-boring micromoths. The caterpillars feed by boring into the cambium layer of a tree. This creates galleries and tunnels under the outer bark that decrease the value of the wood and can sometimes kill the tree. Wood has little nutritional value. As a result, the caterpillars take 3 or 4 years to complete their life cycle. They pupate in the spring of their final year and emerge as adults between May and July.

Robin’s carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae) is a medium-sized moth but a very large micromoth. Adults are 11 16 to 1¾ long with a wingspan of 17 16 to 3. They are similar in size and appearance to sphinx moths and are often misidentified as such. They are distinguished by their large size, heavy body, abdomen that extends well beyond the hind wings, light gray wings with a net-like overlay of thin dark lines, accessory cell and 2 complete anal veins on the forewing, 3 anal veins on the hindwing, and yellowish-orange patch on the hindwing of the male.

  Robin’s carpenterworm
  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Other Recent Additions

white underwing (Catocala relicta)

greater black-letter dart (Xestia dolosa)

golden borer (Papaipema cerina)

darling underwing (Catocala cara)

hitched arches (Melanchra adjuncta)

Virginia ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica)

Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella)

  golden borer
  Photo by Bill Reynolds








Profile Photo Video      


Abbott’s sphinx (Sphecodina abbottii)












arcigera flower moth

banded tussock moth

















cecropia moth

celery looper















darling underwing

dingy cutworm moth

eastern tent caterpillar

forest tent caterpillar

geometer moth

golden borer








greater black-letter dart







hitched arches

hummingbird clearwing

Isabella tiger moth

Leconte’s haploa










milkweed tussock moth





the neighbor














one-eyed sphinx




pink underwing

polyphemus moth






Robin’s carpenterworm





sigmoid prominent




snowberry clearwing















toothed somberwing












Virginia ctenucha

Virginian tiger moth






white underwing

white-lined sphinx








yellow slant-line



abbreviated underwing (Catocala abbreviatella)


achemon sphinx (Eumorpha achemon)


angle-lined prominent (Clostera inclusa)


angulose prominent (Peridea angulosa)


apical prominent (Clostera apicalis)


apple sphinx (Sphinx gordius)


arched hooktip (Drepana arcuata)

Profile Photo Photo

arcigera flower moth (Schinia arcigera)


ash tip borer (Papaipema furcata)


azalea sphinx (Darapsa choerilus)


banded tiger moth (Apantesis vittata)

Profile Photo Photo

banded tussock moth (Halysidota tessellaris)


bedstraw hawkmoth (Hyles gallii)


big poplar sphinx (Pachysphinx occidentalis)


birch-leaf blotchminer moth (Cameraria betulivora)


black-rimmed prominent (Pheosia rimosa)


black-spotted prominent (Dasylophia anguina)


blinded sphinx (Paonias excaecata)


bracken borer (Papaipema pterisii)


briseis underwing (Catocala briseis)


buck moth (Hemileuca maia)


burdock borer (Papaipema cataphracta)


Canadian sphinx (Sphinx canadensis)


Carolina sphinx (Manduca sexta)


catalpa sphinx (Ceratomia catalpae)

Profile Photo Photo

cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Profile Photo Photo

celery looper (Anagrapha falc ifera)


charming underwing (Catocala blandula)


chocolate prominent (Peridea ferruginea)


Clinton’s underwing (Catocala clintonii)


clouded underwing (Catocala nebulosa)


clymene moth (Haploa clymene)


Columbia silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia)


columbine borer (Papaipema leucostigma)


common gluphisia (Gluphisia septentrionis)


confused eusarca (Eusarca confusaria)


confused haploa (Haploa confusa)


connubial underwing (Catocala connubialis)


contracted datana (Datana contracta)


copper underwing (Amphipyra pyramidoides)

Profile Photo  

darling underwing (Catocala cara)

  Photo Photo

dingy cutworm moth (Feltia jaculifera)


double-lined prominent (Lochmaeus bilineata)


double-toothed prominent (Nerice bidentata)


dull reddish dart (Xestia dilucida)

  Photo Photo

eastern tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma americanum)


elegant prominent (Odontosia elegans)


ello sphinx (Erinnyis ello)


elm sphinx (Ceratomia amyntor)


epione underwing (Catocala epione)


European yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba)


fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea)


five-spotted hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata)


forage looper (Caenurgina erechtea)

  Photo Photo

forest tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma disstria)

  Photo Photo

geometer moth (Xanthotype spp.)


Georgian prominent (Hyperaeschra georgica)


girlfriend underwing (Catocala amica)

Profile Photo  

golden borer (Papaipema cerina)


goldenrod spindle-gall moth (Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis)


grape leaf miner moth (Phyllocnistis vitegenella)


grape leaf miner moth (Phyllocnistis vitifoliella)


gray furcula (Furcula cinerea)


great ash sphinx (Sphinx chersis)


great tiger moth (Arctia caja)

Profile Photo Photo

greater black-letter dart (Xestia dolosa)


green cloverworm moth (Hypena scabra)


habilis underwing (Catocala habilis)


hawthorn underwing (Catocala crataegi)


hermit sphinx (Lintneria eremitus)


hickory tussock moth (Lophocampa caryae)

Profile Photo Photo

hitched arches (Melanchra adjuncta)

Profile Photo Photo

hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)


ilia underwing (Catocala ilia)


indigo stem borer (Papaipema baptisiae)


io moth (Automeris io)

Profile Photo Photo

Isabella tiger moth (Pyrrharctia isabella)


joe-pye-weed borer (Papaipema eupatorii)


Judith’s underwing (Catocala judith)


laurel sphinx (Sphinx kalmiae)


leadplant flower moth (Schinia lucens)

Profile Photo  

Leconte’s haploa (Haploa lecontei)


lettered habrosyne (Habrosyne scripta)


lettered sphinx (Deidamia inscriptum)


linden looper (Erannis tiliaria)


linden prominent (Ellida caniplaga)


little carpenterworm (Prionoxystus macmurtrei)


little underwing (Catocala minuta)


luna moth (Actius luna)


maritime sunflower borer (Papaipema maritima)


meadow rue borer (Papaipema unimoda)

  Photo Photo

milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle)


modest furcula (Furcula modesta)


modest sphinx (Pachysphinx modesta)


mother underwing (Catocala parta)


mournful thyris (Thyris sepulchris)


nais tiger moth (Apantesis nais)


nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis)


Nevada buck moth (Hemileuca nevadensis)


Norman’s dart (Xestia normaniana)


North American gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar)


northern apple sphinx (Sphinx poecila)


northern burdock borer (Papaipema arctivorens)


northern pine sphinx (Lapara bombycoides)


northern variable dart (Xestia badicollis)


obscure sphinx (Erinnyis obscura)


obscure underwing (Catocala obscura)


oldwife underwing (Catocala palaeogama)


once-married underwing (Catocala unijuga)

Profile Photo Photo

one-eyed sphinx (Smerinthus cerisyi)


orange-tipped oakworm moth (Anisota senatoria)


ornate moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)


pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus)


phlox moth (Schinia indiana)

Profile Photo Photo

pink underwing (Catocala concumbens)


pink-spotted hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata)


pink-striped oakworm moth (Anisota virginiensis)

Profile Photo Photo

polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)


praeclara underwing (Catocala praeclara)


promethea moth (Callosamia promethea)


ragweed flower moth (Schinia rivulosa)


residua underwing (Catocala residua)


reversed haploa (Haploa reversa)


rigid sunflower borer (Papaipema rigida)

Profile Photo Photo

Robin’s carpenterworm (Prionoxystus robiniae)


Robinson’s underwing (Catocala robinsonii)


rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda)


saddled prominent (Heterocampa guttivitta)


scarlet underwing (Catocala coccinata)


semirelict underwing (Catocala semirelicta)


sensetive fern borer (Papaipema inquaesita)


setaceous Hebrew character (Xestia c-nigrum)

Profile Photo Photo

sigmoid prominent (Clostera albosigma)


silphius borer (Papaipema silphii)


similar underwing (Catocala similis)


simple wave (Scopula junctaria)


small-eyed sphinx (Paonias myops)


Smith’s dart (Xestia smithii)

Profile Photo Photo

snowberry clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)


snowy geometer (Eugonobapta nivosaria)


sordid underwing (Catocala sordida)


sphinx moth (Family Sphingidae)


spiny oakworm moth (Anisota stigma)


spruce budworm (Choristoneura sp.)


spurge hawkmoth (Hyles euphorbiae)


stalk borer (Papaipema nebris)


sunflower borer (Papaipema necopina)


sweetfern underwing (Catocala antinympha)


tearful underwing (Catocala lacrymosa)


tersa sphinx (Xylophanes tersa)


the bride (Catocala neogama)


the little nymph (Catocala micronympha)


the neighbor (Haploa contigua)


the old maid (Catocala badia coelebs)


the penitent (Catocala piatrix)


the sweetheart (Catocala amatrix)


titan sphinx (Aellopos titan)

Profile Photo  

toothed somberwing (Euclidia cuspidea)


turtle head borer (Papaipema nepheleptena)


twin-spotted sphinx (Smerinthus jamaicensis)


two-lined hooktip (Drepana bilineata)


ultronia underwing (Catocala ultronia)


umbellifer borer (Papaipema birdi)


unicorn prominent (Schizura unicornis)


vashti sphinx (Sphinx vashti)


Virginia creeper sphinx (Darapsa myron)

Profile Photo Photo

Virginia ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica)

Profile Photo Photo

Virginian tiger moth (Spilosoma virginica)


walnut caterpillar moth (Datana integerrima)


walnut sphinx (Amorpha juglandis)


waved sphinx (Ceratomia undulosa)


western furcula (Furcula occidentalis)


white slant-line (Tetracis cachexiata)

Profile Photo Photo

white underwing (Catocala relicta)


white-blotched heterocampa (Heterocampa umbrata)


white-dotted prominent (Nadata gibbosa)

Profile Photo Photo

white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata)


white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma)


white-streaked prominent (Oligocentria lignicolor)


white-striped black (Trichodezia albovittata)


Whitney“s underwing (Catocala whitneyi)


widow underwing (Catocala vidua)


wild cherry sphinx (Sphinx drupiferarum)


wonderful underwing (Catocala mira)


woody underwing (Catocala grynea)


yellow slant-line (Tetracis crocallata)


yellow-banded underwing (Catocala cerogama)


yellow-collared scape moth (Cisseps fulvicollis)


yellow-gray underwing (Catocala retecta)


youthful underwing (Catocala subnata)




No Species Page Yet?

If you do not see a linked page for an insect in the list at left, or the insect does not appear in the list, you can still upload a photo or video as an email attachment or report a sighting for that insect. Click on one of the buttons below and type in the common name and/or scientific name of the insect in your photo, video, or sighting. A new page will be created for that insect featuring your contribution.


Capitalization of Common Names

Insect scientific names are governed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). Vernacular (common) names are not. In an attempt to “assure the uniformity of (common) names of common insects” the Entomological Society of America (ESA) published Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms. ESA has no rule or guideline that addresses capitalization of common names. However, the database of common names published by ESA does not capitalize common names. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) also uses uncapitalized common names. Most other sources, including ITIS, BAMONA, Odonata Central, and the Peterson Field Guides, capitalize common insect names. MinnesotaSeasons.com will adhere to the convention followed by ESA and NCBI.


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