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Species Euchaetes elegans - Elegant Tussock Moth - Hodges#8237

Fourth Instar Larva - Day 11 - Euchaetes elegans Newly Emerged Adult - Euchaetes elegans - female Moth A 8.4.17 - Euchaetes elegans - male Arizona Moth - Euchaetes elegans Euchaetes elegans Euchaetes elegans Euchaetes elegans Euchaetes elegans - female
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 Erebidae
Subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Tribe Arctiini (Tiger Moths)
Subtribe Phaegopterina
Genus Euchaetes
Species elegans (Elegant Tussock Moth - Hodges#8237)
Hodges Number
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Euchaetes elegans Stretch, [1874]
Cycnia elegans
Pygarctia elegans
* Pygarctia roseicapitis and Pygarctia flavidorsalis were once treated as forms of elegans but later elevated to species level by Barnes, 1921.
Phylogenetic sequence #930411.00
Explanation of Names
Specific epithet is Latin meaning "elegant."
Forewing length 16-18 mm, females larger than males. (1)
Larva to 28 mm (Comstock & Dammers, 1936).
Pupa 14 mm (Comstock & Dammers, 1936).
Adult - sexually dimorphic. In males the dorsal abdomen is entirely crimson while in females the last segment is white.
sw US (CA to w. TX) - Map (MPG)(1)
Type locality: Owen's Valley, California.
Adults fly July through September.
Larvae feed on milkweeds, including a broad-leaved Asclepias (Comstock & Dammers, 1936).
Life Cycle
About 100 eggs are laid in a single mass on a milkweed leaf and covered in white scales from the mother's abdomen. Early instar larvae feed communally. Later instars will snap their heads side to side and sometimes drop to the ground when threatened. Pupation is on the host plant in a silken cocoon which incorporates the larval hairs. Adults often play dead when handled, with wings held high at a steep angle and abdomen curled downward. This behavior exposes the brilliant crimson dorsal abdomen, normally hidden by the wings, and perhaps is used as a warning to potential predators that they are distasteful, or even toxic, as many milkweed-feeding insects are known to be (notes from rearings featured below).
See Also
Pygarctia roseicapitis has black antennae and the wings have a glossy sheen while E. elegans has white-to-pale-grayish antennae and the wings are dull.
Pygarctia flavidorsalis has an orange head.
Euchaetes egle larvae are similar but perhaps more densely and brightly haired.
Print References
Comstock, J.A. & C.A. Dammers. 1936. Notes on the early stages of five moths from southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 35(2): 99, pl.24-26
Powell, J.A. & P.A. Opler 2009. Moths of Western North America. University of California Press. pl.48.11f, p.272
Stretch, R.H. 1873. Arctiinae. Illustrations of the Zygaenidae & Bombycidae of North America 1 (1-9): p.189, pl.8, f.6
Stretch, R.H. 1873. Report upon new species of Zygaenidae and Bombycidae collected in portions of California and Arizona during the years 1871, 1872, and 1873: p.797-798, pl.40, f.5-6
Works Cited
1.Moths of Western North America
Powell and Opler. 2009. UC Press.