Whether is looks brown, gray, or a pale creamy color, the Common Oak is well-patterned moth with clear identifying features.
Though the Common Oak has a few overall shades, the bar-like reniform spot on each forewing stands out with its black tips. Two tan lines cross the wings, visually breaking it into three bands. The tan line near the head is gently curved, but the line near the wing's edges is more jagged. The lower third of the forewings has small dark dots that hug the curve of the wings' bottoms. Thin, pale 'veins' that run the length of the wings may be visible and they separate the dots.
As its name suggests, the Common Oak uses oak trees as host plants for its caterpillars. Despite a plethora of oak trees across the continent, this species does not cover the entire western half. The caterpillar is mostly brown, but mottled lines of white, pink, olive green, and black may run along the sides of the body. A mottled mess of color fills in a chain of diamond shapes on the 'spine'. Though difficult to describe, its color and pattern are excellent camouflage against an oak branch or trunk. It would be easy to overlook one unless it was moving.
Scientific Name: Phoberia atomaris
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 23mm (0.70in to 0.90in)
Colors: brown, tan, gray, black
Descriptors: small black dots, ridge, tan lines, veins, flying, bean, dash
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.