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Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar - Hypercompe scribonia

Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar - Hypercompe scribonia
Naples (Golden Gate Estates), Collier County, Florida, USA
Size: Approx. 1.5 inches

Images of this individual: tag all
Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar - Hypercompe scribonia Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar - Hypercompe scribonia

Could it be early Seirarctia echo?
Only black and orange banded caterpillar we found was Seirarctia, but not many images online. It does live in your area. And it seems to have a wide variety of identified host plants so far. We'll be curious to see what this gets ID'd as. We hope you will raise it to see how it changes over time.

No, not Seirarctia
Now we found it. This fits the description and matches the image of the immature Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercombe (Ecpantheria) scribonia, Wagner (1) pg 467

Not Giant Leopard Moth
I'm rearing a Giant Leopard Moth and they aren't black and orange, they're black and red. I don't know what this guy is, but he isn't a Giant Leopard Moth.

I see you are rearing a Giant Leopard Moth. I found one today and would like to do the same. Any information you can provide would be well appreciated. Thank you!

PS It is black and red

If you get my drift.

a bit late, but orange it is
I am positive this a giant leopard moth, I live in Florida near where this was photographed and have reared many of these moths from ova to imago and back to ova again. Do you call it red or orange or orange-red? Maybe red-orange? It's hard to say how each person would chose to describe the quality of the color but it is certainly H. scribonia however you perceive the particular hue of this individual. Also don't think of morphology as quite so strict- it's not uncommon at all to have some range in the coloration expressed in a particular species, especially when you are talking about two geographically separate populations. I concur, it is more orange to me than red but I also consider the adults banding more orange than red around here. Perhaps the author of the book is from another area where they tend to be more "vibrant red."

Checked your contributor page
to see your qualifications for disagreeing with David Wagner, internationally known lepidopterist, but you didn't give us any, so we don't know how to choose. Quote from Wagner cited above. "Middle instars with conspicuous orange patches." Then he shows an image almost identical to this one. Not being experts, we can't say. We can only post what Wagner says and people need to decide.

I agree
You're right. People are inclined to believe what we read in books, just as much as we are inclined to believe what they see. However, books can have typos, be mistaken have incorrect pictures and much more. However, our eyes do not lie to us. I have a copy of Peterson's Guide to Caterpillars and I have supplied a direct quote from that book about the recognition of that caterpillar
"It is covered with short, thick, stiff, black hairs. When threatened, the larva rolls up into a ball, displaying the vivid red bands ('vivid red bands' in italics) between its body segments." Then the book starts talking about what the caterpillar feeds on. As you can see, it says nothing about anything orange on the caterpillar. To add to this proof, I hold in my hand my caterpillar, which supports the book's description. Therefore, I am not inclined to believe that the above caterpillar is a Giant Leopard Moth. Though it's very possible that this caterpillar is of the wooly bear family, as is the Giant Leopard Moth.

Peterson is a good book
We do not mean to disparage it in any way. It is a great starting point, but it is no Wagner. Caterpillars pass through several stages as they eat and grow. When they outgrow their skin they shed it and a new larger exterior is formed so they can eat and grow some more. These successive stages are called instars. The last instars of Hypercombe (Ecpantheria) scribonia are, as you describe them and as pictured in the guide here, black with red bands. Earlier instars of lepidoptera are often very different from these later larger ones which catch our attention. In the case of Hypercombe, these earlier instars are black with large orance patches as pictured above. Both this image and the red and black one you have in your hand are Giant Leopard Moth caterpillars. But yours is much older. Hope this helps.

Thanks for the ID!
Thank you very much for your time and attention. I'd love to get a nice photo of an adult for my collection!


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