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Moonseed Moth (Plusiodonta compressipalpis)

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

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Swirls of warm browns, purple, and gold make it easy rest one's gaze on the Moonseed Moth.

Updated: 09/16/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Moonseed Moth seems ethereal and otherworldly thanks to its waves of color and golden tones, but the origin of its name stems from the moonseed vine that it uses as a host. Also called Canadian moonseed or yellow parilla, this plant has large leaves that resemble wild grape leaves. It has a history of medicinal uses and is still studied today, but consumption of toxic seeds can be lethal. Caterpillars of the Moonseed Moth feed on the leaves.

The Moonseed Moth is all shades of brown with curving lines of lilac and gray on the wings. Large pale spots by the head and inner edges of the wings brighten the moth, and gold highlights gleam in daylight. A tuft of hair sticks between the wings. Two broods are produced each year, and adults are active from late spring through early autumn.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Plusiodonta
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            Species: compressipalpis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Plusiodonta compressipalpis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 33mm (0.98" to 1.29")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; purple; pink; gold; tan
Descriptors: swirl; agate; golden; hump; tuft; curved palps; spots; iridescent; comb-like antennae; wavy; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 33mm (1.3in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 29mm
Hi: 33mm
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 Moonseed 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 Moonseed Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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