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CTENUCHA VIRGINICA MOTH
Virginia Ctenucha

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Classification

Phylum Arthropoda

Class Insecta

Order Lepidoptera

Family Erebidae

Subfamily Arctiinae

Tribe Arctiini

Subtribe Ctenuchina

Genus Ctenucha

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Ctenucha Virginica caterpilar
Ctenucha Virginica caterpilar

VIRGINIA CTENUCHA

Ctenucha virginica, the Virginia ctenucha, is a moth of the family Erebidae.

The wingspan ranges from 40-50 millimetres . The wing color varies from black to olive-brown. The body is a metallic blue-green. The head is yellow-orange, with feathery antennae. The caterpillar (about 20-25 mm) has multiple tufts of white and yellow hair. It undergoes metamorphosis in May-August.

It is endemic to eastern North America, from Newfoundland south to Virginia. According to the University of Alberta, there has been a westward expansion in the last 60 years as it has reached the Canadian rockies and is now found in all Canadian provinces.

The adult Virginia Ctenucha flies primarily during the day, but may also come to light at night.

Larvae feed on a variety of host plants including various grasses, irises, and sedges. Adults drink nectar from flowers including goldenrod. When disturbed, the caterpillars protect themselves by curling up into a ball, which, in the case of the Virginia Ctenucha, reveals its white lateral streak. The caterpillars primarily eat grasses, and both the caterpillars and the adults are found in fields and meadows. We see their caterpillars wandering on the road in the winter, anytime the temperature gets close to freezing.

The Virginia Ctenucha is the largest and most broad-winged of wasp moths in North America. Wasp Moths are harmless insects that cleverly mimic a stinging insect that most predators would rather avoid.


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