The Painted Lichen Moth warns predators with its alarming colors while its larval form feeds on the slow-growing lichens across the continent.
Painted Lichen Moths are orange and black, a classic warning color combination for would-be predators. They somewhat resemble Lightening Bugs, which are also toxic to eat. This species looks a lot like its relative, the Scarlet-Winged Lichen Moth. Painted Lichen Moths have the unusual ability to 'hear'. They have hearing organs on their thorax and can make high-frequency sounds themselves. This may be useful in both communicating for mating purposes as well as warding off flying predators, like bats. Females also emit pheromones to attract males.
Caterpillars are not similarly colored. They are brownish-black with yellow speckling. They are also covered in spines. To further protect themselves, they flick their fecal material far from themselves in order to obscure their actual location. Caterpillars feed on lichens found on tree trunks, stones, and even buildings. Lichens are a symbiotic organism: part fungus, part algae or bacteria. The two organisms work together and enhance their ability to survive and thrive. The fungus offers structure and water collection abilities; the algae or bacteria photosynthesize sunlight to create food. Lichens are typically slow-growing, spreading over a surface at a rate of about 1 cm a year. This is a popular food source for the Painted Lichen caterpillar, but it has also been seen eating its smaller siblings and pupae. There are advantages to being the firstborn in almost every species.
Scientific Name: Hypoprepia fucosa
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 35mm (0.98in to 1.37in)
Colors: orange, black, red
Descriptors: line, stripe, vein, flying, lightening, cannibal
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.