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Species Ctenucha virginica - Virginia Ctenucha - Hodges#8262

unkown caterpillar - Ctenucha virginica Moth eggs? on clematis - Ctenucha virginica Ctenucha CAT? - Ctenucha virginica Virginia Ctenuchid Moth (Ctenucha virginica) eggs - Ctenucha virginica Ctenucha virginica Arctiinae, Virginia Ctenucha, lateral - Ctenucha virginica Virginia Ctenucha - Ctenucha virginica Caterpillar - Ctenucha virginica
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 Ctenuchina
Genus Ctenucha
Species virginica (Virginia Ctenucha - Hodges#8262)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Cténuche de Virginie - En français.… Ilze V-G.
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Some taxonomies elevate Arctiidae, subfamily Ctenuchinae, to its own family, Ctenuchidae.
Explanation of Names
VIRGINICA: the type specimen was collected in Nova Scotia and named Ctenucha latreillana by Kirby in 1837, but an earlier specimen named Sphinx virginica by Charpentier in 1830 may have been collected in Virginia (?)
Wingspan 40-50 mm
Larva to 50 mm
Adult: Large, northern (despite the name) wasp moth. Body metallic blue, including some on thorax. Male (?), has incredible antennae. Compare Yellow-collared Scape Moth--Cisseps fulvicollis, which is very similar. Cisseps is smaller, with no blue on thorax. Hindwing (not usually visible) of Ctenucha is black, translucent in Cisseps. Cisseps species is widespread, and its range includes the southeastern United States, where Ctenucha is absent. (Milne (1) states the simiar Brown Ctenucha, C. brunnea, is found in the southeast. This is a typographic error--that species appears to be found in the southwest.)
Hannah Nendick-Mason summarizes identification of these moths thus:
It seems to me the shape of the yellow "collar" is a good distinction. In Ctenucha it is narrower at the nape and then spreads down to the shoulders (excuse ignorance of a better technical term). In Cisseps it goes almost straight across forming a neat line, and in Harrisina the line is blurred.

Larva: body surface black but covered with tufts of cream-colored or black hairs (or a mix of both) that may obscure ground color; white lateral line and white or yellow subdorsal line may be visible or obscured by hair; thoracic legs black, prolegs red or pinkish; head reddish-brown on top and sides, black on front
Labrador and Newfoundland to Virginia, west to Utah, north to British Columbia (has expanded westward greatly since 1950, and now occurs in every Canadian province)
Covell only mentions eastern distribution: Labrador south to Pennsylvania, west to Manitoba, Kansas. (2)
Fields with flowers; day-flying and night-flying; adults are attracted to light
adults fly May-July; two broods
larvae usually seen April to September but may be found any time of year (they overwinter)
Larvae feed on monocots: grasses, sedges, iris.
Adults take nectar at various flowers, such as goldenrod.
Life Cycle
two generations per year; overwinters as a larva beneath leaf litter/matted grasses

Life cycle images:
1.eggs 2.newly hatched larvae 3.dark larva 4.light larvae 5.cocoon 6.mating pair, male and female

Life cycle series by Marcie O'Connor
Despite its name, this species is more commonly found in the northern United States and southern Canada than in Virginia, which represents the southern boundary of its range.

The larva's hair color may vary according to season for thermoregulation purposes, from black in the early spring (to absorb solar radiation) to yellowish in summer (to reflect the sun's rays) [article citation, Paul Fields, Agriculture Canada]
See Also
Grapeleaf Skeletonizer, Harrisina americana; Yellow-collared Scape Moth, Cisseps fulvicollis
Print References
Covell, p. 75, plate 12 #1 (2)
Himmelman, p. 188, plate C-3, compares Ctenucha and Cisseps in life (3)
Milne, p. 792, fig. 544 (1)
Internet References
Moths of North America pinned adult image by Paul Opler, and US distribution map (USGS)
Cirrus Imaging live adult images showing good comparison with Cisseps fulvicollis (Bruce Marlin, Illinois)
Lynn Scott (live adult images and flight dates, Ontario)
Insects of Cedar Creek (pinned adult images, Minnesota)
Canadian Biodiversity (pinned adult images of Ctenucha virginica and Cisseps fulvicollis)
pinned adult image plus habitat, flight season, description, food plants (U. of Alberta)
live larva image (Dave Wagner/AnthroPhoto)
live larva and cocoon images plus pinned adult images (Insects of Quebec)
live larva images (Richard Seaman, Illinois)
Moths of North Dakota live larva and pinned adult image (Gerald Fauske, North Dakota State U.)
presence in Virginia live adult image from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (
distribution in western Canada list of provinces (CBIF)
Works Cited
1.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
2.Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Moths
Charles V. Covell. 1984. Houghton Mifflin Company.
3.Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard
John Himmelman. 2002. Down East Books.