Moths of North Carolina
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19 NC Records

Spilosoma latipennis Stretch, 1872 - Pink-legged Tiger Moth

No image for this species.
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930311.00 MONA Number: 8133.00
Comments: One of eight species in this genus found in North America, four of which have been recorded in North Carolina
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, GBIF, BOLDTechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: A nearly pure white moth with distinctive pink markings on the coxae and femora of the front legs; other white tiger moths, including other species of Spilosoma, Estigmene, and Hyphantria, have yellow on their fore-legs instead of pink (at least in our area). Apart from the pink markings, however, latipennis is similar to several of those species. Where the top of the abdomen can be seen, it is pure white in latipennis but marked with yellow or orange and with black in S. virginica, S. dubia, and E. acrea. Both S. congrua and H. cunea, however, also have white abdomens, although they are often much more heavily spotted than in S. latipennis. Lightly marked individuals of those species may be difficult to distinguish from S. latipennis without a view of the fore-legs, although H. cunea is much smaller and S. congrua slightly smaller, which may be difficult to determine from a photograph alone.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: Larvae are similar to those of other Spilosoma species ("Yellow Bears"), but their heads are bicolored, with upper portion dark brown and the lower yellow-brown; larvae of other Spilosoma have darker heads (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005).
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Probably restricted to the Mountains; records from other regions of the state need to be verified
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ‚Č• 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

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Flight Comments: Appears to have a single, early summer flight
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Records from the Mountains come from primarily from slopes and ridges, with only a few from riparian areas (e.g., New River State Park).
Larval Host Plants: Probably polyphagous, like other members of this genus, feeding on a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005). - View
Observation Methods: Appears to come somewhat poorly to blacklights, with only single specimens being collected in light traps. None have been recorded at bait.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G4 [SU]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This species is far less frequently observed than Spilosoma congrua or virginica, even in the Mountains, where the range of all three species overlap. Although there is no indication that latipennis is specialized in terms of its habitat, more needs to be learned about its distribution, abundance, and habitat preferences in North Carolina before its conservation status can be determined.