Species of the Week: Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth

Photo by Adam Kalab

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth (Hypoprepia miniata). It is easily recognizable with its bright red body and gray stripes on the forewings. The caterpillars feed on lichens growing on trees, with a preference for pine trees. This moth is found all across North America. Eastern populations are particularly abundant in Jack Pine forests, while western populations are abundant in Lodgepole Pine forests. The life cycle lasts about one year. After hatching late in the summer, the caterpillar feeds in the fall and then is dormant during the winter. The caterpillar resumes feeding in spring before pupating. Adults emerge late in the spring and fly from June to September. Since these moths fly at night, they have to avoid predation by bats, which they do with a unique adaptation. The Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth is a tiger moth in the subfamily Arctiinae, which means they have tymbal organs that produce high-frequency clicks that can be heard by bats. Some tiger moths make clicks that actually disrupt bat echolocation, but lichen moths have a different strategy. These moths are toxic to bats, so they make clicks that warn about their toxicity. It’s similar to how the colouration of a Monarch Butterfly deters predators, except using sound. Have you seen this moth, or any other tiger moths, in the park? 

This entry was posted in Friends of Murphys Point, Murphys Point, Murphys Point Provincial Park, Species of the Week. Bookmark the permalink.