The Holly Borer Moth is a convincing mimic of a wasp, but the hairy moth is more dangerous to plants than to people.
The transparent wings of the Holly Borer Moth, coupled with the bold black and yellow body patterns, make it look like a stinging wasp. This mimicry helps them avoid predators like birds and small animals. It also leads to mistaken identity and possibly hostile treatment from wary people. They have hairy bodies and legs. Antennae are long and slightly curved, and the wings are narrow and clear, with dark veins; all of this can add to an observer's confusion. It is a moth, however, and poses no stinging or biting threat to people. Flower nectar is what it seeks.
The connection to holly plants comes from the caterpillar. The larvae of this species bore into holly trees, sometimes damaging the plant. Once the larvae pupate and become adults, they can be found on a variety of flowers in parks, gardens and meadows during the summer months.
Scientific Name: Synanthedon kathyae
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 24mm (0.78in to 0.94in)
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.