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Zig-Zag Furcula Moth (Furcula scolopendrina)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Zig-Zag Furcula Moth

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Image Credit: Desiree L. from UT
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Image Credit: Desiree L. from UT
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A robust body, feathery tufts of hair, woolly legs and conspicuous markings make the Zig-Zag Furcula Moth one to look for come nightfall.

Updated: 01/06/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Zig-Zag Furcula Moth is strictly nocturnal, only becoming active at sundown. It is attracted to lights at night. They prefer wet deciduous forests, but span the western part of the continent from Canada and into Mexico. They are most active in flight during the summer months, but may been seen as early as mid-spring. Its legs, upper half, and abdomen are white and very hairy. Black, yellow, and gold hairs cover the thorax region like a hood on a cape. At the middle of the wings, a black and gold hairy patch forms a small zig-zag when the two wings meet. The white wings have faint black lines that scallop across the lower area by dark patches near the wing tips. Black dots border the bottom edge of the forewings.

Caterpillars are shaped like a rolled leaf. The rear of the caterpillar extends into a long 'stem'. The head of the caterpillar is large and flat in front, as if mimicking a flat edge of a torn leaf. The plump, hairless larva changes colors and pattern as it matures. It can be green with brown spots on the dorsal side (back), or yellow/tan with a larger brown spot draping it. Small eyespots dot the sides of the body. The larval caterpillar feeds on the leaves of popular trees like birch, cottonwood and willows.©InsectIdentification.org

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


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: scolopendrina
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Furcula scolopendrina
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 17mm to 20mm (0.66" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white; black; gray; orange
Descriptors: flying; band; stripe; spots; arc; semicircle

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 17mm (0.7in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 17mm
Md: 18.5mm
Hi: 20mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
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Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
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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
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Zig-Zag 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 Zig-Zag Furcula Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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