The varied browns on the Tulip-Tree Beauty Moth gives it camouflage on more than just tulip trees.
The brown and ivory coloring on this moth make it almost impossible to see when it is resting on tree bark. Its wings remain completely flat so it has a low profile. The zigzag patterns and scalloped edges blend in with the variations on a trunk. Though fond of tulip trees, this species' caterpillar also feeds on the leaves of yellow poplar, paw-paw, red bay, and sassafras trees. Adults are active from mid-spring through the summer and into early autumn in some regions. They are attracted to lights.
The caterpillar is pale brown on top and whitish on bottom. Dark lines and spots decorate its dorsal side (back). Thin yellow rings around segments are sometimes visible. The head color ranges from bright yellow to muted brown with speckles. In the mid 1930's, the Tulip-Tree Beauty caterpillar ate the leaves off a majority of the sassafras trees growing in Connecticut. Damage on that scale has not been seen in these days.
Scientific Name: Epimecis hortaria
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 38mm to 50mm (1.48in to 1.95in)
Colors: brown, ivory, white
Descriptors: zigzag, large, scalloped, flying, tree pest
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.