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Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth (Empyreuma pugione)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth



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Image Credit: Adam from FL
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Seen only in Florida, the bright orange wings bleed into dark purple on the Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth.



Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The tropical Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth is more often seen in Caribbean countries, but it arrived in Florida where now a few populations exist in the southern parts of the state. The black body of the moth has a ring of small white dots around its collar, and a pair of white dots on its hairy thorax. A large, single white dot sits at the center of the abdomen. Its long, lustrous orange wings gradually shift colors and ending a deep purple hue at the bottom edges. Black antennae have bright orange tips.

Adult females exude a pheromone that attracts males. Fertilized eggs are laid in groups on oleander leaves. The caterpillar has an orange head and body. Large white spots line the sides and top of the body, which is covered in tufts of long, stiff, spiny hairs. A pair of black hairs sits at the head and rear. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of oleanders and can ruin the aesthetics of a group planting, but this moth is somewhat rare, so it is not a significant problem in Florida, unlike the more destructive Oleander Caterpillar.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Flying insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Erebidae
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          Genus: Empyreuma
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            Species: pugione
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Empyreuma pugione
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 43mm to 48mm (1.69" to 1.88")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange, black, white
Descriptors: iridescent, fade, ombr?, white dot, flying, orange-tip antennae, rare
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 43mm (1.7in) and 48mm (1.9in)
Lo: 43mm
Md: 45.5mm
Hi: 48mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Spotted Oleander Caterpillar 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 Spotted Oleander Caterpillar Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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