Friday, November 25, 2011

Virginian Woolly Bear

I don't seem to have much luck getting shots of butterflies and moths, but my luck seemed to change a bit this past summer.  Some of the incredible beauties I shot this summer included a giant polyphemus moth, a gorgeous viceroy blowing on the goldenrod, and this delicate creature ~ a Virginian tiger moth.

Virginain tiger moth in my garden

I had been having some troubles identifying this moth, so I consulted with the pros at  The problem was that my National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders listed this moth as a Yellow Woolly Bear Moth (Diacrisia virginica), but all the images I found online identified it as a Virginian Woolly Bear (Spilosoma virginica).  As it turns out, Diacrisia virginica is the old name and Spilosoma virginica is the new.  Thanks to John and Jane Balaban for teaching me this.  I was rather stumped as to what to properly call this moth ~ a Virginian tiger moth! 

I love how you can see its tongue!  Click this photo to enlarge it. 
 The Virginian tiger moth ranges from southern Canada throughout the entire United States, and southward into eastern Mexico. 

The caterpillars of this moth can be called yellow bear caterpillars, or simply, Virginian tiger moth caterpillars.  These caterpillars feed on a variety of plants including forest trees, shrubs and low growing vegetation.

Please check out this site for some fantastic photos of the yellow bear caterpillar:

Bill Oehlke has an informative link here on the Virginian Tiger Moth.

Here are some other shots I managed to get this summer....

Polyphemus Moth... the largest moth I've ever had the privilege of finding

Viceroy on Goldenrod

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