Polka Dot Wasp Moths are common to tropical climates and make their North American home in the Southeastern United States, appearing year-round in warmer places like Florida.
Though they take on the appearance - and in some ways, the behavior - of a wasp, the Polka Dot Wasp Moth is actually a moth. It utilizes the act of mimicry to put off potential predators who are familiar with the real wasp's sting and would rather avoid a potential meal than feel that pain again. The Polka Dot Wasp Moth is a day-flier.
The Oleander Caterpillar is the Polka Dot Wasp Moth in the larvae stage. These larvae are disliked for their extensive defoliation of the poisonous oleander plant common to Florida. Oleander Caterpillars are a bright orange with black hairs and congregate in quantity on oleander leaves. Removing them from your garden is bittersweet. You will spare the oleander, but miss out on a funny little visitor later.
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Polka Dot Wasp Moth
Scientific Name: Syntomeida epilais
Adult Size (Length): 20mm to 43mm (0.79in to 1.69in) COMPARE
Identifying Colors: red; white; blue; black
General Description: flying, multicolored, dots, spots, red butt, tail, polka
North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Florida; Georgia; Mississippi; South Carolina; Texas
* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.