Seen only in Florida, bright orange wings fade to a dark gleaming purple on the Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth.
The tropical Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth is more often seen in Caribbean countries, but it arrived in Florida where now a few populations exist in the southern parts of the state. The black body of the moth has a ring of small white dots around its collar, and a pair of white dots on its hairy thorax. A large, single white dot sits at the center of the abdomen. The long, lustrous orange wings gradually shift colors and end in a deep purple at the bottom edges. Black antennae have bright orange tips.
The caterpillar has an orange head and body. Large white spots line the sides and top of the body which is covered in tufts of long, stiff, spiny hairs. A pair of black hairs sit at the head and rear. Females exude a pheromone that attract males. Fertilized eggs are laid in groups on oleander leaves. The caterpillars feed on the leaves and can diminish the aesthetics of a cluster of oleanders, but this moth is somewhat rare, so it is not a significant problem in Florida, unlike the more destructive Oleander Caterpillar.
Scientific Name: Empyreuma pugione
Butterfly or Moth
Colors: orange, black, white
Descriptors: iridescent, fade, ombré, white dot, flying, orange-tip antennae, rare
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.