The Light Marathyssa is pale and may look mostly ivory in color, but it also has brown overtones and reddish patches on its wings that are broken up by white veins. The position of its abdomen it unusual for most moths as it bends over backward, almost aligned with the head. Small tufts of hairs stick up from the 'back' of the abdomen, adding even dimension. The result is a curious, headstand-like profile. Wings remain low and folded in pleats in this pose, giving them a narrow appearance. Males have comb-like teeth on both sides of their antennae, but females lack them.
This is a nocturnal moth, and like its darker relative, it will come to lights at night. It is often seen in or near woodlands and forests. The caterpillar is white with pale green and yellow tones. It is covered in rows of black dots from head to rear end that may start to connect along the 'spine'. This handy caterpillar feeds on poison ivy, a plant notorious for giving persistent red, terribly itchy, rashes and blisters to people who come into contact with it. If the caterpillar is seen feeding on foliage, it would be prudent to identify the plant immediately to avoid accidentally brushing up against poison ivy.
Scientific Name: Marathyssa basalis
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 15mm to 18mm (0.59in to 0.70in)
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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.