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Canadian Owlet (Calyptra canadensis)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Canadian Owlet

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Hiding in plain sight, the Canadian Owlet Moth looks like a dry, rumpled leaf, allowing it to safely rest anywhere.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Found in most of Canada and the United States, the Canadian Owlet has a larger range than its name suggests, though it is less common in the warmer southern states. The brown moth has subtle hue shifts on its forewings, giving the illusion of depth and dimension. A thin, slightly wavy, dark line crosses each forewing on an angle. When viewed overhead, the line on each wing meets near the center of the abdomen and creates an inverted V-shape. A clump of hairs rise up near the head, like the moth has a small camel hump. Its face has hairs that angle upward.

This genus of moths is known for sucking blood. Vampire moths in the Calyptra genus have a barbed probocis that is typically used to pierce fruit in order to suck on its juices. Male moths also use it to pierce the skin of animals, and even an obliging human, and suck blood from them. The behavior is thought to come from mistaking possible food sources, which resulted in males taking in the salt from blood. The behavior may have continued in order to pass on the mineral to offspring through fertilization. The Canadian Owlet Moth has not been seen exhibiting this behavior, but it is possible that it does. Bites from its relatives leave a small red mark and may be sore for a while, but they are not dangerous.

Caterpillars of the Canadian Owlet are white on top and green on bottom. Broken black lines run the length of the body and yellow dots line each side. Its yellow head has black marks on it. This species feeds on meadow rue, a type of flowering plant. Meadow rue does not grow well in hot, humid places, so it's scarcity in warm southern states may explain the rarity of the moth's presence there. Adults are nocturnal and will come to lights at night. ©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Calyptra
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            Species: canadensis

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Calyptra canadensis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 19mm to 40mm (0.74" to 1.57")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown
Descriptors: angled line; face; snout; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 19mm (0.7in) and 40mm (1.6in)
Lo: 19mm
Md: 29.5mm
Hi: 40mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Canadian Owlet 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 Canadian Owlet. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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