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Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth Caterpillar

A rare find, this caterpillar lives quietly in the unspoiled oak barrens and forests of its range.


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Image Credit: Theodore "Teddy" Martin and Marc Williams, taken in Holmen, Wisconsin.
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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Cerma
Species: cora

Caterpillar Details

The Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth Caterpillar becomes the Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth.

0.0 " to 1.1 " (1mm to 30mm)

black, white, orange, yellow, white 'i' on back, wispy black hairs on body, black head, black and white lines on neck, orange sides, accordion segments, rare
This caterpillar is not endangered, but it is certainly hard to find. Sightings have been historically rare throughout its range. It has a black head and a black body. The segments are somewhat pointed on the sides, not rounded like many other types of caterpillars. The sides have orange or yellow-orange patches, and the top of the caterpillar has a series of dots and dashes along the 'spine', as if stamped with the letter 'i' on every segment. The 'neck' area lacks orange coloring, and instead has thin white lines. This caterpillar is believed to feed on pin cherry and perhaps hawthorn trees. They are thought to reside mainly in unspoiled areas of forest.

The adult moth may be olive green with a white center band, or orange with a white center band. It is covered in black wavy lines with one black ring in the center of each wing. When wings are open flat, and the pale hindwings are exposed, the overall appearance mimics that of an owl's face. When resting on a tree, this mimicry likely deters any bird or small animal from approaching it. There is some resemblance to bird droppings in certain individual moths, and other, closely related moths in this genus could easily pass for droppings.

Adults are only active for a few months and only one generation of caterpillars is produced each year. They spend all summer feeding and pupate over winter, safely hidden in dead wood, until they emerge as winged adults next spring.©CaterpillarIdentification.org

Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth Caterpillar Diet

pin cherry; hawthorn (possibly)

Territorial Areas

Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Mexico.
Prince Edward Is.  
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The map above showcases (in blue) the states and territories of North America where the Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth Caterpillar may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data can be useful in seeing concentrations of a particular species over the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some species are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America.*NOTE: States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Owl-eyed Bird Dropping Moth Caterpillar. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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