Bug of the Week – Eight-spotted Forester Moth

This Eight-spotted Forester Moth (Alypia octomaculata) was feasting on the flowering winterberry bush outside my office window. Those puffy orange knees caught my eye and I had to go out to investigate.

The first few photo attempts were fruitless, as the moth flitted away as soon as I got close enough. Persistence paid off, however, and this flashy fellow got used to me and let me snap away.

First google search of “black and white moth with orange legs” hit the jackpot with enough information to make you a virtual  Eight-spotted Forester Moth Expert.

Here are the tidbits that I found most interesting:

  • The EsFM is a smallish (1 ½ inch wingspread), flashy, day-flying moth that is often mistaken for a butterfly when it’s nectaring on flowers. While not knobbed like a butterfly’s, its antennae are slim (simple), not feathery. It has black wings with two cream-colored spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hind wing (= 8). Its body and legs are also black, accented by yellow “epaulets” called tegulae on the thorax at the base of each wing and by startling tufts of orange hairs at the tops of its first and second pairs of legs. One theory is that the orange tufts resemble the packed pollen baskets of a bee.
  • Their body and wings are black, there are two yellow spots on each forewing and two white spots on each hindwing….and of course those gorgeous orange tufts on their legs, that seriously look like stockings. The eight distinctive spots on their wings is where their species name comes from….octomaculata literally translates into 8-spotted.
  • The moth flies from April to June in one generation in the north. In the south it has a second generation, which flies in August.

A few other flying friends were at the party. This lightening bug seemed to think that the winterberry blossoms tasted just fine.

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