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Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Leopard Moth.

 Updated: 12/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The rings and spots of the Giant Leopard Moth distract from its boldly patterned, robust body.



This white tiger moth has distinct black rings as well as black spots, similar to those seen in leopards, all over its white wings. The Giant Leopard Moth can grow to enormous sizes compared to other moths, fitting comfortably in the palm of an adult's hand. Males are almost two times larger than females. The body is an iridescent blue-black with reddish-orange bands and side stripes. Legs are covered in black and white bands. As a defense against predators, they release a foul-tasting, yellow fluid when they are frightened. Like most moths, they are nocturnal and are attracted to lights at night.

During mating, a male covers part of the female with his wings. Mating takes many hours so the male may lift and carry the female throughout the session to warmer or cooler areas. The caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth has a black body with red bands that are revealed when it stretches. The entire thing is covered in clusters of long, black spiky hairs. It is commonly called a 'woollybear'. This caterpillar is an exception to the 'Don't touch spiky caterpillars' rule. The hairs do not sting and the caterpillar does not bite, so it is safe to gently handle. They often curl up when touched. These larvae eat from a wide variety of trees ranging from willow, maple, and magnolia to cherry, lemon, orange and banana. They also eat smaller plants like pokeweed, sunflowers, violets, cabbage, and dandelion.

Typical habitats for this moth include woodland edges, fields or meadows, gardens, and orchards/groves. Thanks to the caterpillar's varied diet, they are comfortable in both developed and wild areas, improving everyone's chances of seeing one. They are on the wing from April through September.
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Arctiidae
          Genus: Hypercompe
            Species: scribonia
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Hypercompe scribonia
Other Name(s): Eyed Tiger Moth, Great Leopard Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 57mm to 91mm (2.22in to 3.55in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; white; orange; red
Descriptors: flying, spotted, rings, dots, spots, large, red belly
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
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
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American butterfly and moth insect
1
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
3
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
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Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
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Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.