Oranges, brown, and purples - a collection of autumn's favorite colors - converge on the wings of the Spiny Oakworm Moth.
Spiny Oakworm Moths are a rusty brown color that can appear more orange in some individuals. The two-toned wings are orange-brown on the top half, and are separated by a deep purple line from the more pink-purple color on the bottom. The furry head and thorax are orange-brown as is the short-haired abdomen. Light purple-pink patches on the 'shoulders' are bordered with a dark purple line. A bright white dot sits near the center of each forewing. Black freckles cover most of the forewings and the lower edge of the hindwings.
The caterpillar's body is brown and it has an orange-brown head. This worm-like larva is spiny, as its name suggests. Two black spines, or curved spikes, protrude from either side of a black line that runs down the 'spine'. They are exceptionally long spines near the head. The entire body is covered in white dots. Spiny Oakworms are voracious eaters of a variety of oak leaves, often seen feasting in groups during their early life. One cluster can defoliate an entire young oak. They spend late summer feeding into mid-autumn, eventually becoming more solitary, and then move underground by winter to pupate. Mature oak trees can tolerate the aggressive feeding, but years of defoliation force the use of stored energy and slows tree growth. The insect emerges as a winged adult in summer the next year.
Scientific Name: Anisota stigma
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 38mm (0.86in to 1.48in)
Colors: orange, purple, pink, brown, yellow, white, black
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.