Leconte’s and Confused Haploa Moths

Leconte’s Haploa Moth – Haploa lecontei

color photo Leconte's Haploa Moth - Haploa lecontei

Erebidae is a large and diverse family of moths including the groups commonly known as tiger moths, footmen moths, lichen moths and wasp moths. Many species have ‘hairy’ caterpillars which are popularly known as woolly bears.

The most distinctive feature of the family is a tymbal organ on the metathorax (Scoble 1995). This organ has membranes which are vibrated to produce ultrasonic sounds. They also have thoracic tympanal organs for hearing, a trait which has a fairly broad distribution in the Lepidoptera, but the location and structure is distinctive to the family. Other distinctive traits are particular setae (‘hairs’) on the larvae, wing venation, and a pair of glands near the ovipositor (Scoble, 1995). The sounds are used in mating (Simmons and Conner 1996) and defense against predators (Fullard et al, 1994).

Confused Haploa Moth – Haploa confusa

color photo Haploa confusa moth

Family Erebidae / Subfamily Arctiinae – Tiger, Footman and Lichen Moths

This larva is probably Haploa confusa

Many of the caterpillars and adults are active during the daytime. If disturbed, woolly bear caterpillars will roll into a tight spiral. Common folklore has it that the forthcoming severity of a winter can be predicted by the amount of black on the Isabella tiger moth’s caterpillar, the most familiar woolly bear in North America; however the relative width of the black band varies among instars, not according to weather. Isabella tiger moths (Pyrrharctia isabella) overwinter in the caterpillar stage. They can survive freezing at moderate subzero temperatures by producing a cryo-protectant chemical.

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