Other Common Names
Polka-dot Wasp Moth, Oleander Caterpillar
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Syntomeida epilais (Walker)
Orig. Comb: Euchromia epilais Walker 1854
Day-flying. Adult moth largely dark metallic blue, with white spots on the wings and body and red-tipped abdomen.
Caterpillars to about 2", orange with black tufts of hair.
coastal MS-FL-SC, southmost TX / W. Indies / Mex. to S. Amer. - Map
Caterpillars are a common on Oleanders and adults are often found nectaring nearby.
Larvae feed on Oleander (Nerium oleander
), Desert Rose (Adenium
species), Devil's Potato (Echites umbellata
) and perhaps other members of the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae). Adults nectar on flowers, particularly members of the Asteraceae.
Life cycle images:
mated pair; ovipositing female; larva; pupa; adult
The spotted oleander caterpillar, Empyreuma pugione (above) is considerably less common and less destructive than the oleander caterpillar, Syntomeida epilias (below)
Bratley HE. 1932. The oleander caterpillar, Syntomeida epilais Walker. Florida Entomologist 15: 55-64.
Covell. 2005. Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America. (1)
Goldstein, J.A. & R.B. Simmons. 2005. A morphological revision of the tiger moth genus Syntomeida Harris. (Lepidoptera: Noctuoidea: Arctiidae: Arctiinae: Euchromiini). Poster. ESA Annual Meeting, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
McAuslane HJ, Bennett FD. 1995. Parasitoids and predators associated with Syntomeida epilais (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) on oleander. Florida Entomologist 78: 543-546.
Rothschild M, von Euw J, Reichstein T. 1973. Cardiac glycosides (heart poisons) in the polka-dot moth Syntomeida epilais Walk. (Ctenuchidae: Lep.) with some observations on the toxic qualities of Amata (=Syntomis) phegea (L.). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 183: 227-247.
Sanderford MV, Conner WE. 1990. Courtship sounds of the polka-dot wasp moth, Syntomeida epilais. Naturwissenschaften 77: 345-347.
Amazing series of life history photos
- Claudine and Pierre Guezennec, Guadeloupe (captions in French)