Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFErebidae Members: 15 NC Records

Arctia caja (Linnaeus, 1758) - Great Tiger Moth


Taxonomy
Superfamily: Noctuoidea Family: ErebidaeSubfamily: ArctiinaeTribe: ArctiiniP3 Number: 930290.00 MONA Number: 8166.00
Comments: One of four members of this genus that occurs in North America (Lafontaine and Schmidt, 2010) and the only one in our area. The species occurs circumboreally at high latitudes; the subspecies listed for North America is A. caja americana (Forbes, 1960).
Species Status: Based on a small amount of DNA analysis, the population in the Southern Appalachians does not appear to be significantly different from those in eastern Canada.
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: A large, spectacular Tiger Moth with strongly contrasting colors and patterns on the fore- and hindwings: the forewings are brown and variably marked with a network of white or cream spots and interconnecting lines; the hindwings are orange-yellow with two primary rows of large black spots with dark blue centers. The antennae are white, the head is crimson, the thorax is cinnamon brown, and the abdomen is primarily orange with a dorsal row of black spots. Although the pattern is distinctive, A. caja is similar in size, pattern, and coloration to the equally spectacular Platarctia parthenos, which occupies similar high elevation habitats in the Southern Appalachians. In Platarctia, the antennae are black; the abdomen is mainly black with an orange tip; the spots on the forewing are typically isolated rather than connected; and the pattern on the hindwing consists of broad areas of black with orange bands rather than a primarily orange ground color and dark spots. Individuals of both species may have greatly reduced pale markings on the forewings and may be difficult to distinguish based on the forewing pattern alone; antennal color and/or hindwing and abdominal markings must be used instead.
Wingspan: 55 mm (Forbes, 1960)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: Larvae are large, with a mixture of dark bristles over most of the body and long white hairs located dorsally; 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: Recorded in North Carolina only at Mount Mitchell and the vicinity of Elk Knob. Found in Virginia on White Top Mountain (S. Roble, pers. comm. to S. Hall).
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
Flight Comments: Single brooded, with adults flying primarily in mid-July
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: North Carolina records are all from Northern Hardwoods and perhaps Spruce-fir Forests (Mt. Mitchell) from elevations around 4,000' and higher.
Larval Host Plants: Polyphagous, feeding on a wide range of herbaceous and woody plants (Covell, 1984; Wagner, 2005). Covell specifically lists Alder (Alnus sp.), Poplar (Populus sp.), Willow (Salix sp.), Cherry (Prunus sp.), and Apple (Malus sp.); other species listed by Robinson et al. (2014) included Stinging Nettle (Urtca sp.), Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), and several species of Composites and other forbs.
Observation Methods: Comes moderately well to blacklights; like other Arctiini, Arctia probably does not come at all to bait
Wikipedia
See also Habitat Account for General High Elevation Forests
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status: SR
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: G5 S1
State Protection: Listed as Significantly Rare by the Natural Heritage Program. That designation, however, does not confer any legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: One of our rarest moths and among the most vulnerable to the effects of global climate change: higher temperatures, increased droughts and fires, and invasion by exotic species are all likely to have impacts on this and other Pleistocene relicts that are confined to just a small number of high elevation "mountain islands" in the Southern Appalachians.

 Photo Gallery for Arctia caja - Great Tiger Moth

Photos: 14

Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-08-03
Yancey Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Bo Sullivan on 2019-07-30
Yancey Co.
Comment: A specimen collected by Bo Sullivan in a UV trap (photographed by Jim Petranka).
Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2019-04-24
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: B. Sullivan, K. Bischof on 2018-07-31
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: B. Sullivan, K. Bischof on 2018-07-31
Yancey Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: B. Sullivan, K. Bischof on 2018-07-31
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: K. Bischof on 2014-08-02
Yancey Co.
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Recorded by: B. Belville, K. Safley on 2014-07-20
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: B. Belville on 2014-06-02
Watauga Co.
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Recorded by: Bo Sullivan, Steve Hall, and Merrill Lynch on 2012-07-26
Watauga Co.
Comment: Retrieved alive from UV trap
Recorded by: Paul Scharf, B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger on 2012-07-26
Watauga Co.
Comment: This is the single beat up individual that showed up on Moth Night
Recorded by: Paul Scharf, B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger on 2012-07-26
Watauga Co.
Comment: This is the single beat up individual that showed up on Moth Night
Recorded by: Paul Scharf, B. Bockhahn, K. Kittelberger on 2012-07-26
Watauga Co.
Comment: This is the single beat up individual that showed up on Moth Night
Recorded by: Doug Blatny/Jackie Nelson on 2012-07-25
Watauga Co.
Comment: