The large, boldly patterned Ranchman's Tiger Moth is at home in the west, where it lives a life still filled with some mystery.
Deep black wings on the Ranchman's Tiger Moth are covered with large, round-shaped, pale yellow spots. It has an orange-red face and body. The abdomen is plump and has black bars on it that are only visible when the wings are spread open. A single orange-red dot sits below the thorax, peeking out between the two wings. This moth can get large, and despite its intriguing appearance, it is not as recognized as other Tiger Moths.
Little is known about what plants the caterpillar prefers to eat. There is no certain evidence that the moth is even plant-specific. The caterpillar is easy to recognize, however, so finding one on an herbaceous plant may mean it is using it as a food source. The head and rear end of the caterpillar is covered in spiky tufts of orange-red hairs. The middle part of the caterpillar is black and has long white hairs growing from it. Females lay clutches of round, pale yellow-green eggs.
The adult moth is typically seen in flight from late spring into summer, but more study about its life history would help illuminate details about its diet and courtship behaviors. In the meantime, it remains a striking example of the diverse colors seen in the Tiger Moth family.
Scientific Name: Platyprepia virginalis
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 40mm to 50mm (1.56in to 1.95in)
Colors: black, yellow, red, orange, white
Descriptors: yellow dots, orange red face, large, flying
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.