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Indigo Stem Borer (Papaipema baptisiae)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Indigo Stem Borer

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Despite the coincidence, the Indigo Stem Borer did not get its name from the purple-toned band at the bottom of its wings.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Most people know the color indigo from the 'roygbiv' acronym that children learn to help remember a rainbow's color order. The source of the color's name actually comes from a plant. Wild indigo grows in natural areas and is also found in gardens. Its purple-blue flowers can create a purple dye used to color fabric, and its sap turns purple when exposed to air. The caterpillars of the Idigo Stem Borer feed on this plant, but they do not turn purple from it. The caterpillar is actually brown, much like its adult form. It digs into the stem of the plant and eats its way through it, boring a tunnel as it moves. The caterpillar's plant host and feeding behavior are how the moth got its common name.

Moths are brown with a series of white markings that help differentiate them from other borer moths. This species has a single white dot by the base of the wings, near the 'shoulders'. An angled trio of white spots tuck under a dark band. On the lower half of the wings, a cluster of white spots resemble an oval-shaped egg that was cracked in many places, exposing a golden-orange middle. At the lower edge of the wings sits a dark band of color with purple tones. Orange patches are seen in the middle of the wings and at the tips. This moth flies later in the year, at the end of summer and into autumn. Look for it near woodlands, fields, and swampy areas where wild indigo, American angelica, dogbane, and Indian plantain grow.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Noctuidae
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          Genus: Papaipema
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            Species: baptisiae

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Papaipema baptisiae
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 19mm to 20mm (0.74" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; purple; orange
Descriptors: lilac band; purple bottom; cracked egg; trio; three white spots; hairy; orange spots; small white dot; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 19mm (0.7in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 19mm
Md: 19.5mm
Hi: 20mm

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 Indigo Stem Borer 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 Indigo Stem Borer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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