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Ornate Bella Moth (Utetheisa ornatrix)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Ornate Bella Moth.




Colorful Ornate Bellas love warm weather and can be found in all three continental Americas.



 Updated: 5/26/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




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
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae [ View More ]
          Genus: Utetheisa [ View More ]
            Species: ornatrix
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Descriptors
Scientific Name: Utetheisa ornatrix
Other Name(s): Bella Moth; Ornate Moth; Rattlebox Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 16mm to 24mm (0.62in to 0.94in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange;white; black; pink
Descriptors: row of black dots; black dots with white rings; orange wings; pink under wing; colorful; pretty; flying
Relative Size Comparison
Lo: 16mm | Hi: 24mm
Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
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
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
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.
Territorial Map
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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State of New Mexico graphic
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State of South Carolina graphic
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State of Utah graphic
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State of Washington graphic
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


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 for sensing.
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.
5
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
6
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.