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Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea)

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

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Diane R.M. from Regina, SK
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Image Credit: Dwight B., taken near Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX
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The Salt Marsh Moth is not confined to wet, briny habitats and can be seen in almost every state and province in North America.

Updated: 07/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The white Salt Marsh Moth has small black dots on its wings. The fluffy thorax is covered in white hairs. Males have bright orange hindwings that peek out when the wings are open flat. Females have white hindwings with black spots on them. Both sexes have bright orange abdomens along the 'spine' with a column of black dots. The sides of the abdomens are white with rows of black dots. If threatened, this moth can emit an acrid smell from the prothorax area that deters predators from eating it. Additionally, males broadcast pheromones using yellow-orange coremata. Coremata are long appendages that look like tentacles covered in thin hairs. They are also called 'hair pencils'. These specialized appendages are inflatable and are displayed in courtship for a female. They release pheromone and help attract a female to the male for reproduction.

Small, round, white eggs are laid in groups on the backside of leaves. The caterpillar is spiky with a black face that has yellow marks in the middle of it. It becomes darker as it ages, but if often seen when it is pale yellow or orange. It feeds on leaves of apple trees and other deciduous trees as well as crops like corn, potato, and cabbage. Two broods can be produced each year. ©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Salt-Marsh-Moth

apple; cabbage; corn; potato; tobacco
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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: Erebidae
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          Genus: Estigmene
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            Species: acrea

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Estigmene acrea
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 29mm (0.78" to 1.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black; orange
Descriptors: black specks; flying; fur; frog legs; tentacles; octopus

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 29mm (1.1in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 24.5mm
Hi: 29mm

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 Salt Marsh 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 Salt Marsh Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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