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Wasp Moth (Melittia sp.)


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



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Red, orange, and black Wasp Moths are harmless insects that cleverly mimic a stinging insect that most predators would rather avoid.



Updated: 08/23/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A vibrantly colored group of moths, Wasp Moths are easy to mistake for real wasps. These moths mimic the coloring of a wasp to deter predators from trying to eat them. Predators are less likely to attack an insect if it is capable of repetitive stinging. Some Wasp Moths have opaque wings. Others belong to the Clearwing Moth family and at least part of the forewings are transparent, like the wings of a true wasp.

Many of the caterpillars of this type of moth can do substantial damage to orchard trees because they bore into the wood, damaging the tree. Adult Wasp Moths feed on pollen and nectar from flowers.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sesiidae
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          Genus: Melittia
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            Species: sp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melittia sp.
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 45mm (0.51" to 1.77")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; black; yellow
Descriptors: flying, striped
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 13mm and 45mm
Lo: 13mm
Md: 29mm
Hi: 45mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
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 Wasp 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 Wasp Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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