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Bicolored Sallow (Sunira bicolorago)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Bicolored Sallow

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A two-toned wing is not always the easiest way to identify the somewhat varied Bicolored Sallow Moth.

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The two colors of the Bicolored Sallow Moth are brown and a darker purple-brown, but it is not seen on every individual. In bicolored specimens, the upper half of the wings is orange-brown while the lower half is darker with purple undertones. There are individuals that have wings showing mostly brown with only streaks of that darker, purple tone. All individuals have a furry, brown thorax and a dark ring on the outer, upper half of each forewing. Beneath the ring is a dark spot at the middle of the wing.

The caterpillar for the Bicolored Sallow Moth is brown with a black head. A single dark band wraps around the first segment of the body, just after the head. The segments near the rear end each have a triangular-shaped, darker brown patch in the center. They feed on the leaves of common trees like oak, willow, elm, cherry, and crabapple as well as crops like cabbage and tobacco.

This is a fairly common moth in the eastern and northern part of the continent. What is uncommon is its usual months of activity. While most moths take immediate advantage of warming weather in spring, this species is not typically seen flying until August or September. All activity ends by November or December making the window to catch a glimpse of this one somewhat narrow.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Sunira
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            Species: bicolorago

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Sunira bicolorago
Other Name(s): Shield-backed Cutworm (caterpillar)
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 20mm (0.70" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; purple; gray; orange
Descriptors: flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 19mm
Hi: 20mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Bicolored Sallow may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Bicolored Sallow. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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