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Common Oak Moth (Phoberia atomaris)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Oak Moth



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Whether is looks brown, gray, or a pale creamy color, the Common Oak is well-patterned moth with clear identifying features.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Though the Common Oak has a few overall shades, the bar-like reniform spot on each forewing stands out with its black tips. Two tan lines cross the wings, visually breaking it into three bands. The tan line near the head is gently curved, but the line near the wing's edges is more jagged. The lower third of the forewings has small dark dots that hug the curve of the wings' bottoms. Thin, pale 'veins' that run the length of the wings may be visible and they separate the dots.

As its name suggests, the Common Oak uses oak trees as host plants for its caterpillars. Despite a plethora of oak trees across the continent, this species does not cover the entire western half. The caterpillar is mostly brown, but mottled lines of white, pink, olive green, and black may run along the sides of the body. A mottled mess of color fills in a chain of diamond shapes on the 'spine'. Though difficult to describe, its color and pattern are excellent camouflage against an oak branch or trunk. It would be easy to overlook one unless it was moving.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned 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: Phoberia
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            Species: atomaris
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Phoberia atomaris
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 23mm (0.70" to 0.90")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, tan, gray, black
Descriptors: small black dots, ridge, tan lines, veins, flying, bean, dash
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 23mm (0.9in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 20.5mm
Hi: 23mm
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
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Oak Moth 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 Common Oak Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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