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White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

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

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Image Credit: Steve K., taken in California, MD
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Image Credit: Amy M. from Clemmons, NC
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Image Credit: Joe V. from AR
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Image Credit: Amy M. from Clemmons, NC
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Image Credit: Joe V. from AR
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The White Furcula caterpillar is not at all white and it sports an unusually long forked tail that doubles its length.

Updated: 08/09/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Furculas are a type of nocturnal moth with a lovely mop of hair by the head and 'shoulders'. The furry crest has ribbons of metallic blue and dark yellow color in it. The White Furcula is not completely white, but those parts that are have a clean, snowy brightness. A dark gray, almost salt-and-pepper colored band crosses the middle of the wings, with smaller corners of dark color by the tips. A border of the same metallic blue and yellow separate the dark from the light regions. The white areas have a line of black dots that follow their curvy boundaries, and a row of these black dots hug the bottom edges of the wings. Black legs are loaded with long, white tufts of hair.

The caterpillar of the White Furcula is yellow or green with a dark brown diamond at the center of its body. This brown color also covers the head and runs in a line down through a long, thin, forked tail. Furcula actually means 'forked' and this tail is about half as long as the caterpillar itself, and may be sticking straight up in the air or stretched behind the rear, extending the overall length of the larva. The segments behind the head may be swollen and come to points on either side, or they may be rounded, depending on maturity. The function of its coloring and pattern is to mimic the leaves, both alive and dried up, that it feeds on.

Look for adults and caterpillars on cherry trees, but also on willow and poplar trees. Two broods are produced each year and adults can be seen from spring through the end of summer. ©InsectIdentification.org

Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.InsectIdentification.org. It is the product of hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, educators, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at InsectIdentification AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.

General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Notodontidae
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          Genus: Furcula
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            Species: borealis

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Furcula borealis
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 42mm (1.18" to 1.65")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black; gray; orange; blue
Descriptors: metallic; shiny; patches; salt-and-pepper; grey; furry; flying; black dots

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 30mm (1.2in) and 42mm (1.7in)
Lo: 30mm
Md: 36mm
Hi: 42mm

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