You may have seen this moth before, maybe on the exterior of a building. Or perhaps you spotted one that was perched on a screen door.
It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s black-and-white, it’s… very, very still.
The giant leopard moth, Hypercompe scribonia, is most often encountered by humans during the day, when this species likes to rest on vertical surfaces.
Seen in this posture — motionless, with wings folded across its back –- the giant leopard moth has a distinctive, tastefully elegant pattern of small jet-black circles and dots on a snow-white field. Look closer and you may catch a glimpse of iridescent blue in some of those dots.
Put it this way — if Grace Kelly were a moth, the BugWeek Web Team is pretty sure she’d be this species.
The giant leopard moth is part of the order Lepidoptera and the family Arctiidae, and it doesn’t have any economic or health impacts worth noting here. It’s native to the Eastern U.S. and Mexico.
There’s little chance of most people seeing a live specimen flying around, which is unfortunate, if you ask us.
By the way, if you find a resting specimen of Hypercompe scribonia or any other moth, please don’t disturb it. These elegant creatures work the night shift and deserve to sleep in their downtime.
Here’s a “Featured Creatures” document from the UF/IFAS entomology department, where you can read brief write-ups on the giant leopard moth and several other intriguing members of the moth subfamily Arctiinae, a division of the family Arctiidae.