Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 296 NC Records

Spilosoma virginica (Fabricius, 1798) - Virginian Tiger Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930316.00 MONA Number: 8137.00
Comments: One of eight species in this genus that occur north of Mexico and one of four species found in North Carolina
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984); Beadle and Leckie (2012)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, BAMONATechnical Description, Adults: Forbes (1960)Technical Description, Immature Stages: Forbes (1960); Wagner (2005)                                                                                 
Adult Markings: Has nearly all white wings, with usually just a few small black dots on the forewing (often just a dot at the lower angle of the cell) and just one or two spots on the hindwing (Forbes, 1960). Virginica can be distinguished from S. latipennis by the yellow rather than pink hair on the fore-legs and by a pattern of yellow patches and black spots on the upperside of the abdomen. The abdominal pattern also distinguishes S. virginica from S. congrua and Hyphantria cunea, both of which have pure white abdomens and are often much more heavily spotted. Spilosoma dubia is much more heavily marked on the forewings with black spots, but has a similar pattern of yellow and black patches on the abdomen, although usually more obscured by a layer of longer white hair. Estigmene acrea, another white tiger moth with black spots on its forewings, is much bigger, longer-winged, and usually more heavily spotted than S. virginica.
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from photos showing hindwings, abdomen, or other specialized views [e.g., frons, palps, antennae, undersides].
Immatures and Development: The larvae, known as Yellow Bears, are covered by soft, long hair that varies in color from yellow to reddish-brown; distinguished from the similar larvae of S. congrua by hairs that are very uneven in length, with the longest ones extending outward about the width of three abdominal segment; the head is all dark and the spiracles are white (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 occurs statewide
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Immature Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Flight Comments: Appears to be present throughout most of the growing season, with two or three peaks in activity in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Wagner (2005) lists fields, gardens, bottomlands, woodlands, and forests as habitats used by this species. In North Carolina, it occurs in a wide variety of open and forested habitats, including dune grasslands and maritime forests on the barrier islands; Longleaf Pine savannas, flatwoods, and sandhills; peatlands; floodplains; and mesic- to dry-hardwood forests.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, like other members of this genus, feeding on a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants (Forbes, 1960; Wagner, 2005).
Observation Methods: Comes well to blacklights, with up to 37 having been collected in a single trap; not recorded at bait
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General Forests and Fields
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 [S5]
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands
Comments: This is one of our most abundant and ubiquitous species, occurring in most open and wooded habitats across the state. It appears to be quite secure.

 Photo Gallery for Spilosoma virginica - Virginian Tiger Moth

72 photos are available. Only the most recent 30 are shown.

Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2021-10-01
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2021-09-18
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2021-08-31
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: David George, L. M. Carlson on 2021-08-21
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: David George on 2021-07-04
Orange Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-13
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Jim Petranka on 2021-06-13
Madison Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-07
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-07
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-05-06
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: David L. Heavner on 2021-04-25
Chatham Co.
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Recorded by: Gary Maness on 2021-04-19
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-04-18
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Dean Furbish on 2021-04-18
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2021-03-27
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Vin Stanton on 2021-03-27
Buncombe Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-09-21
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-09-21
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-09-21
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-09-15
Granville Co.
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Recorded by: C. Taunton on 2020-09-10
Wake Co.
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Recorded by: June Koster on 2020-09-02
Guilford Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-27
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Owen McConnell on 2020-08-26
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Taylor on 2020-08-01
Beaufort Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Taylor on 2020-08-01
Beaufort Co.
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Recorded by: Steve Taylor on 2020-08-01
Beaufort Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-01
Durham Co.
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Recorded by: Simpson Eason on 2020-08-01
Durham Co.
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