Two color forms are common for this variable moth. One is bright orange with white bands crossing the wings, each filled with a row of black dots. The bottom border has black semi-circles above a short white fringe. The hindwings are a fresh, rosy pink with an irregular black border. Another form that is found in southern Florida, southern Texas, and Mexico is mostly white. Black dots cover the head and thorax. Dark orange coloring borders the outer sides of the wings and the bottom as well. Black dots on white are still present on the wings, but are mostly relegated to the lower part.
The caterpillar for this moth is equally colorful. The orange body has black rings on each segment. Each black ring has a row of black bumps that sprout black or white whiskers. A denser group of these hairs grow by the orange-red head. Carrying the orange and black coloring through the life cycle, its chrysalis is black with orange spots marked with black centers. Legumes, especially rattelebox, are favored by the caterpillar, but tree leaves from elm and cherry are possible host plants for the caterpillar as well smaller plants like lupine and sweetgale. Larvae eat the toxic seeds of rattlebox and become poisonous to other insects because of it. The adult and even eggs laid by females retain some of this beneficial, chemical protection. Certain wasps are still able to parasitize the moth eggs, so the species is not completely impervious to predation.
Look for this moth during the day in fields that grow legumes like rattlebox. This species rarely flies into the northern states and provinces in its range, preferring heat and humidity. In fact, the Ornate Bella Moth counts Central America and South America as part of its range and can be found as far south as parts of Argentina. In consistently warm areas, they fly year round.
General Characteristics Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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.
Territorial Map U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Prince Edward Is.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used for sensing.
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.