Image Credit: Dwight B., taken near Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX
The Salt Marsh Moth is not confined to wet, briny habitats and can be seen in almost every state and province in North America.
The white Salt Marsh Moth has small black dots on its wings. The fluffy thorax is covered in white hairs. Males have bright orange hindwings that peek out when the wings are open flat. Females have white hindwings with black spots on them. Both sexes have bright orange abdomens along the 'spine' with a column of black dots. The sides of the abdomens are white with rows of black dots. If threatened, this moth can emit an acrid smell from the prothorax area that deters predators from eating it. Additionally, males broadcast pheromones using yellow-orange coremata. Coremata are long appendages that look like tentacles covered in thin hairs. They are also called 'hair pencils'. These specialized appendages are inflatable and are displayed in courtship for a female. They release pheromone and help attract a female to the male for reproduction.
Small, round, white eggs are laid in groups on the backside of leaves. The caterpillar is spiky with a black face that has yellow marks in the middle of it. It becomes darker as it ages, but if often seen when it is pale yellow or orange. It feeds on leaves of apple trees and other deciduous trees as well as crops like corn, potato, and cabbage. Two broods can be produced each year.
Scientific Name: Estigmene acrea
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 29mm (0.78in to 1.13in)
Colors: white, black, orange
Descriptors: black specks, flying, fur, frog legs, tentacles, octopus
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.