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Species Schizura unicornis - Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#8007

Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#8007 - Schizura unicornis Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Schizura unicornis Notodontidae: Schizura unicornis  - Schizura unicornis Prominent - Schizura unicornis Schizura unicornis Schizura unicornis - Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#8007 - Schizura unicornis Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Schizura unicornis Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Schizura unicornis
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)
Family Notodontidae (Prominent Moths)
Subfamily Heterocampinae
Genus Schizura
Species unicornis (Unicorn Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#8007)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Unicorn Caterpillar (larva)
Unicorn Prominent (adult)
Variegated Prominent (adult)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Schizura unicornis (J.E. Smith, 1797)
Phalaena unicornis Smith, 1797
Phylogenetic sequence # 930100
Explanation of Names
UNICORNIS: from the Latin "unus" (one) + "cornu" (horn); the larva has a prominent fleshy "horn" projecting from the top of the first abdominal segment
Lafontaine & Schmidt (2010) listed eight species of the genus Schizura in America north of Mexico. (1)
wingspan 24-35 mm
Adult: forewing dark gray, variably shaded and marked with yellowish, rose, and brown, especially along costa and beyond PM line; basal area green (fading to whitish), bounded by double black AM line; reniform spot marked by black line; usually a black costal patch near apex, sharp black spots in ST area, and a white dash or spot near anal angle; usually holds wings in a "tent" position, sometimes partly rolled around body, and often rests in head-down position
hindwing dirty white, shaded with gray in male; dark gray in female
[adapted from descriptions by Charles Covell and Lynn Scott]

Larva: head mottled brown with diffuse black line from antenna to vertex; second and third thoracic segments bright green; remainder of body brown, with prominent hornlike protuberance on first abdominal segment, and smaller one on eighth abdominal segment; fifth abdominal segment not appreciably larger than A4 or A6
all of North America except the arctic (absent only from Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Alaska)
deciduous woodlands and shrubby areas
adults fly from February to September in the south; May to August in the north
larvae May to October in the south; June to September in the north
larvae feed on alder, apple, Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides), White Birch (Betula papyrifera), elm, hawthorn, hickory, willow
Life Cycle
one generation per year; overwinters as a larva beneath leaf litter in flimsy cocoon within which it pupates in spring

Larva; larva; birch leaf shelter; adult; inside of leaf shelter with spent pupa case
Caterpillars in this genus are unusual in that they can eject a stream of formic acid for up to several inches from a gland in the hump. (U. of Alberta)
See Also
Schizura leptinoides (Black-blotched Prominent) and S. ipomoeae (Morning Glory Prominent). Compare images of all three species.
Print References
Smith, 1797. in Smith & Abbot, Nat. Hist. Rarer Lepid. Ins. Georgia, 2: 171, pl. 86.
Internet References
live adult images plus description, food plants, flight season (Lynn Scott, Ontario)
live images of eggs, larva, adult plus biology, habits, food plants, seasonality, common name reference [Unicorn Prominent] (Jeremy Tatum, Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island)
live larva image plus description, seasonality, life cycle (David Wagner and Valerie Giles, Caterpillars of Eastern Forests; USGS)
live larva image (Robert Anderson, USDA Forest Service)
live larva image on Swamp Rose (Bastiaan Drees, Texas A&M U.)
distribution in western Canada list of provinces (CBIF)
distribution in eastern Canada list of provinces (CBIF)