Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Polka Dot Wasp Moth



The stunning Polka Dot Wasp Moth is the adult stage of the Oleander Caterpillar, here pollinating our Backyard Loquat Trees. It is rare to see and get film of these elusive beauties which flutter around slowly in the daytime (Syntomeida epilais Walker). Its dangerous wasp-like appearance and unusual color patterns say to potential predators like birds - stay away - thus they are perfectly safe to feed on pollen in the daytime alongside the bees and other pollinators. Their caterpillars are only destructive to Oleander Trees which are highly poisonous. Oddly another similar wasp moth with bright red wings is actually called the Spotted Oleander Wasp Moth - it can be seen in this video:

The adult stage of the oleander caterpillar is sometimes called the polka-dot wasp moth. Wasp moth is the common name given to the subfamily of arctiid moths to which this species belongs (the ctenuchines) because of their resemblance to wasps such as the sphecids and pompilids. The moth's body and wings are a beautiful iridescent blue/green. Small white dots are found on the body, wings, legs and antennae, and the tip of the abdomen is red/orange. Male and female moths are quite similar in appearance, and have a wing span of 45 to 51 mm. These moths are slow-flying and active during daylight hours, which contrasts them with other moth species which are usually nocturnal.
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/oleander_caterpillar.htm

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Polka Dot Wasp Moth