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Moths (Lepidoptera order, infraclass Neoptera, subclass Pterygota, class Insecta, subphylum Hexapoda, phylum Arthropoda, kingdom Animalia, domain Eukarya)

It's easy to see what butterflies have in common, but the differences among moths stand out.  Some are diurnal, some nocturnal.  Some adult moths visit flowers, others don't eat at all.  Many, but not all, have feathery ("plumose") antennae, but this isn't always obvious.   Their wingspreads range from several inches to a few millimeters.  But according to latest research in the field, the diversity among moths relative to those among butterflies are even greater than once imagined.  Some moths (most notably the Geometer Moths, but to a slightly lesser degree the Giant Silkworm Moths and the Sphinx Moths), are much more closely related to butterflies than they are to the members of most other moth species.  At the polar extreme from butterflies (at least for species on this page) according to these discoveries are the Ermine Moths and relatives in the Yponomeutoidea superfamily, of which the Ailanthus Webworm Moth is probably the most familiar member.

Moths comprise 32 superfamilies in the Lepidoptera order; butterflies and skippers make up the other two.

For moth identification, higher taxa are based on the Tree of Life Web Project and the pages it points to.  Some of these (above "superfamily") have not been given such classifications on the TOL site.  The English common names of higher taxa, i.e., at and above family, on this page reflect theirs, though not exactly.  Where not specified on the TOL, the ITIS is the source of classifications, mainly lower taxa. 

Most of the moths below were photographed during the day; exceptions are noted.   None was killed or trapped.

Geometer Moths (Geometridae family, Geometroidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

Inchworm caterpillars are found in this family and in the Noctuidae family.

False Crocus Geometer Moth (Xanthotype urticaria), Durham, NC, 8/21/20 Possibly a Bent-line Gray (Iridopsis larvaria, subfamily Ennominae, tribe Boarmiini), Durham, 4/14/06.  Seen at night.  Genus and species ID according to Moth Photographers Group, Plate 32b.  Subfamily and tribe ID according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System.


White-striped Black Moth (Trichodezia albovittata, subfamily Larentiinae), Asheville, NC, 7/7/05.  This moth species was common in Asheville and abundant at the Mount Mitchell, NC, summit.  Kit Muma of Ithaca College is studying this moth. A member of a similar species, Moses Cone Memorial Park, Watauga County, NC, 8/31/05. Bad-wing (Dyspteria abortaria), Asheville, 7/9/05.  Although relatively innocuous in life, these moths frustrate people who try to mount them with their uncooperative hind wings (poetic justice, I think!)  This moth appeared in a shrubby area in back of a motel. Pale Beauty (Campaea perlata), Falling Creek Camp, near Tuxedo, NC, 5/25/03. Three-spotted Fillip (Heterophleps triguttaria), Durham, 7/15/05 Lesser Maple Spanworm Moth (Macaria pustularia), Durham, 6/5/05.


Tulip Tree Beauty (Epicemus hortaria), Durham, 8/4/05. This moth appeared on my deck at night. Another Tulip Tree Beauty demonstrating great camouflage in a more natural setting, Penny's Bend Nature Reserve, Durham County, NC, 8/23/05. Tulip Tree Beauty, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 7/15/06.  Camouflage was not so perfect here.


Deep-yellow Euchlaena (Euchlaena amoenaria) Moth, Durham, NC, 5/1/07.  ID according to Covell, Jr. (2005), p. 276. Chickweed Geometer (Haematopis grataria), Durham, NC, 9/20/18.  ID thanks to John Stanard.  

Wavy-lined Emerald (Synchlora aerata) caterpillar, Asheboro, NC, 8/18/07.  These caterpillars camouflage themselves by attaching plant debris to their bodies. Wavy-lined Emerald caterpillar (Synchlora aerata) on goldenrod, Durham, NC, 10/2/19 Wavy-lined Emerald  (Synchlora aerata), Port Aransas, Nueces County, TX, 2/21/14        


Female Spring Cankerworm Moth (Paleacrita vernata) Durham, 1/28/06.  ID thanks to Dr. Doug Yanega of the University of California at Riverside. Female Fall Cankerworm Moth, Durham, NC, 12/29/11 Female Fall Cankerworm Moth (Alsophila pometaria), a Geometridae family member, 12/28/11 Male Fall Cankerworm Moth, Durham, NC, 1/14/14      


Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/23/05 Eno River State Park, Fews Ford Access, 4/7/05 Geometrid moth maybe, Durham, NC, 11/10/06

Owlet Moths/Cutworm Moths (Noctuidae family, Noctuoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

Noctuinae subfamily

Moth (Lacinipolia laudabilis), Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC, 10/24/11 Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) caterpillar, Durham, NC, 7/14/19.       

Heliothinae subfamily

Ragweed Flower Moth (Schinia rivulosa), Durham, NC, 8/24/15  Genus ID thanks to Aaron Hunt, species ID thanks to Tony Leukering          

Amphipyrinae subfamily

Pennsylvania Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) with a Goldenrod Stowaway Moth, an owlet moth (Cirrhophanus triangulifer), Durham, NC, 9/10/17.  Moth ID thanks to John and Jane Balaban.          

Euteliinae subfamily

Moth (Paectes abrostoloidea), Durham, NC, 7/5/07 Moth, Durham, 4/14/06.  Photographed at night.  Seems similar to the Paectes moth on the left. Mottled Bomolocha Moth (Hypena Palparia, Hypeninae subfamily), Durham, 4/14/06. Photographed at night.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts.        

Acronictinae subfamily

American Dagger Moth (Acronicta americana), Durham, NC, 5/24/09 Harris' Three Spot (Harrisimemna trisignata), an owlet moth, i.e., Harrisimemna trisignata. ID by Lori Gilbert Owenby and Maury J. Heiman, independently.  

Smartweed Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita), Durham, NC, 9/20/20 Smartweed Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita), Durham, NC, 9/19/20 Another Smartweed Caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita), Durham, NC, 9/19/20          

Cattail Caterpillar Moth (Acronicta insularis), Durham, NC, 9/28/16 Another Cattail Caterpillar Moth (Acronicta insularis), Durham, NC, 6/14/08

Ochre Dagger moth (Acronicta morula), Durham, NC, 5/23/21          

Agaristinae subfamily

Six-spotted Forester (Alypia langtoni), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 6/3/08) Grapevine Epimenis (Psychomorpha epimenis), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/7/11        

Eustrotiinae subfamily

Black-bordered Lemon Moth (Thioptera nigrofimbria) Durham, NC, 8/29/20 Black-bordered Lemon Moth (Thioptera nigrofimbria) Durham, 7/20/05.  You can see the legs at right if you look closely.

Agarastinae subfamily

Beautiful Wood Nymph (Eudryas grata, subfamily Agarastinae), Durham, 8/11/06.  Taken at night.   ID thanks to Bob Moul, confirmed by Marshall (2006), p. 220.

Catocalinae subfamily

Lunate Zale Moth (Zale lunata, subfamily Catocalinae, family Noctuidae) Durham, 7/26/05. The wingspread was about 2 inches.  Photographed at night. Lunate Zale Moth, Durham, 8/2/05.  Photographed at night. Bold-based Zale (Zale lunifera), Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 3/9/09          

Maple Looper Moth (Parallelia bistriaris, subfamily Catocalinae), Eno River State Park, Few's Ford access, Cox Mountain, Orange County, NC, 4/12/06 Oncemarried Underwing (Catocala unijuga), unable to fly.  Durham, NC, 7/27/10 Clover Looper Moth (Caenurgina crassiuscula, Catocalinae subfamily) Little Scaly Mountain, 8/11/05.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts. Decorated Owlet Moth (Pangrapta decoralis, Catocalinae subfamily), Durham, 6/10/05. Bent-lined Owlet Moth (Bleptina genus), Durham, NC, 5/24/09        

Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis), Durham, 10/13/03 Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis), Durham, 10/24/05 Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis), Durham, 10/1/05.  ID according to the USGS Moths of North America. False Underwing (Allotria elonympha), NC Arboretum, Asheville, NC, 7/8/05.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts.  Although ITIS doesn't recognize this taxon, Bob Patterson's page at the Mississippi State University Moth Photographer's Group does.          

Owlet moth, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 4/26/10 Cabbage Looper (Trichoplusia ni), Durham, 9/6/05.  In Plusinae subfamily. Cabbage Looper (Trichoplusia ni), Durham, 9/6/05      

Heliothinae subfamily

Tobacco Budworm Moth (Heliothis virescens, Heliothinae subfamily), Durham, 9/6/05. Corn Earworm, (Helicoverpa zea), Durham, NC, 8/29/16 Corn Earworm (Helicoverpa zea), Durham, NC, 8/3/10 Corn Earworm (Helicoverpa zea), Heliothis genus, NC Botanical Garden, 9/2/04

Hadeninae subfamily

Sunira cf. bicolorago, Xylenini tribe, Hadeninae subfamily, Durham, 11/2/05.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts. Red-winged Sallow (Xystopeplus rufago, Xylenini tribe, Hadeninae subfamily), Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC        

Calpinae subfamily

Curve-lined Owlet Moth caterpillar (Phyprosopus callitrichoides, Calpini tribe), Durham, NC, 10/23/09, hanging from a branch, mimicking a rolled-up dead leaf.  ID thanks to Lynette Schimming.          

Plusiinae subfamily

Soybean Looper (Chrysodeixis includens), Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/17/07        

Eustrotiinae subfamily

Noctuid moth (Maliattha synochitis), Wind Rock, Giles County, VA,  6/16/11          

Prominent Moth (Notodontidae family, Noctuoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

This Saddled Prominent (Heterocampa guttivitta) caterpillar seemed to be trying to turn into a pupa at Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC on 8/8/05. Later on, it apparently changed its mind and began crawling around.  Thanks to Josh Rose for genus ID.

Azalea Moth (Datana major) caterpillar, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/18/07.  ID thanks to William Kimler. Yellow-necked Caterpillars (Datana ministra) on the branch of a Blackjack Oak, Durham, NC, 9/19/20. Yellow-necked Caterpillar (Datana ministra) moth, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 7/14/07. Prominent moth caterpillar (Furcula genus, Cerurinae subfamily), Durham, NC, 8/2/17  

  Red-humped Caterpillars (Schizura concinna), Durham, NC, 9/25/21 Red-humped Caterpillar (Schizura concinna), Durham, NC, 8/23/08

Tiny caterpillar (Schizura ipomaeae).  ID thanks to John and Jane Balaban. Tiny caterpillar, in the Prominent (Notodontidae) family, Durham, NC, 9/25/21.  Again, its species might not be able to be determined because of insufficient information about the appearances of its instars.          

Tussock Moths (family Lymantriidae, superfamily Noctuoidea, Macrolepidoptera)

White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma), Durham, NC, 9/29/20 White-Marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma) caterpillar, Durham, NC,  9/17/06 White-marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma) caterpillar, Durham, NC, 5/22/21 White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar, Durham, NC, 4/29/23  

Banded Tussock Moth caterpillar, Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 8/23/05 Tussock moth caterpillar (Dasychira meridionalis), Merchants Millpond State Park, Gates County, NC, 4/29/09

Tiger Moths (family Arctiidae, superfamily Noctuoidea, Macrolepidoptera)

Lichen Moth (Lycomorpha pholus), North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/6/19 Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvucollis, tribe Ctenuchini, subfamily Arctiinae), Durham, 10/24/05.

Pale Tussock Moth (Halisidota tessellarus, tribe Phaegopterini, subfamily Arctiinae), 8/4/06

Harnessed Tiger Moth (Apantesis phalerata), Durham, NC, 5/13/07.  Taken at night. Tiger moth (Apantesis genus), Durham, NC, 5/21/09 Tiger moth (Haploa genus), McAfee's Knob, Roanoke County, VA, 6/15/11

Orange Holomelina (Holomelina aurantiaca, Arctiini tribe, Arctiinae subfamily), Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 6/30/06.  ID based on BugGuide and Marshall (2006), p. 214.


Dogbane Tiger Moth (Cycnia tenera), found on the underside of a dogbane leaf, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 4/26/10 Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea), Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, NC, 5/10/09 Salt Marsh Moth (Estigmene acrea), aTiger Moth, held by Brian Bockhahn, who also found it and called it to our attention at the Raulston Arboretum, Wake County, NC on 8/28/10. Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia), Raleigh, NC, 9/26/10.  Photo taken by Matthew Schneider. Tiger moth (maybe), Durham, 11/14/05 Maybe a Milkweed Tiger Moth (Euchaetias egle), Durham, 5/23/05.  I helped this very worn moth off the walking path in my neighborhood after taking this photo.

Leconte's Haploa (Haploa lecontei) caterpillar, a member of the Arctiidae (tiger moth) family, Arctiinae subfamily. It showed up on a dogwood tree branch. Durham, NC, 2/27/09 Tiger Moth (Spilosoma congrua) caterpillar, found by Meg Millard on the ground on her street. ID thanks to John and Jane Balaban. Yellow Woolly Bear caterpillar (Spilosoma virginica), Durham, NC, 9/19/20 Yellow Woolly Bear (Spilosoma virginica), Durham, NC, 9/21/20 Sycamore Tussock Moth (Halysidota harrisii) caterpillar, Durham, NC, 9/10/20  

Giant Silkworm Moths and Royal Moths (Saturniidae family, Bombycoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

They are the biggest and arguably the showiest members of Lepidoptera, but reproduction is the focus of their short, relatively uneventful adult lives: they are not able to eat.  Their wings start out with a saturated green color, which eventually fades to white.

They do not include the moth species that produces commercial silk:  it comes from another family, the Silkworm Moths (family Bombycidae).

Luna Moths (Actias luna)

Luna Moth, Durham, NC, 3/27/20 Luna Moth, Durham, 8/7/07.  Taken at night. Luna Moth, Carolina Beach, NC, 8/26/03.  It's unusual to see a live Luna in this condition.  I've seen some lying in the middle of the road, all bleached out, whose wings were in better shape.  Maybe those tails are the main attraction for predators. Luna Moth, Durham, 6/2/05.  This moth clung to the door of our house during a heavy rain.  It was in mint condition. Luna Moth in flight, Durham, NC, 5/30/11 Luna Moth caterpillar, about six inches long.  Photo taken by Karl Gottschalk at Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Moore County, NC, 10/6/11. Luna Moth Caterpillar, Durham, NC, 6/22/15  

Polyphemus Moth (Antherea polyphemus, tribe Saturniini, subfamily Saturniinae)

Polyphemus Moth, Nature Trail, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 5/24/06 Polyphemus Moth caterpillar.  Taken in Virginia.

Copyright © 2006 Mick Phillips

Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia)

Cecropia Moth.  Photo taken by Richard. Cecropia Moth caterpillar.  Taken in Virginia.

© 2006 Mick Phillips

Tulip-Tree Moth (Callosamia angulifera)

Tulip-Tree Moth Caterpillar, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 9/17/10          

Io Moth (Automeris io)

Io Moth, War Spur Loop, Giles County, VA, 6/16/11          

Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis)

Female Imperial Moth , Durham, NC, 8/14/12 Male Imperial Moth, Durham, NC, 8/9/21 Male Imperial Moth, Carrboro, NC, 7/19/11.  Photo taken by Paul Hinrichs.  

Tulip Tree Silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera, tribe Attacini, subfamily Saturniinae)

Tulip-tree Silkmoth, Durham, NC, 7/9/03. This moth clung to this fence, long enough for me to run home and grab the camera, instead of using those big, glorious wings. ID according to BugGuide. Same Tulip-tree Silkmoth (ventral view)          

Oakworm Moths (Anisota genus)

Spiny Oakworm Moth, Indian Creek Trail, a Jordan Lake Game Land, Chatham County, NC, 7/7/06 Spiny Oakworm Moth, Third Fork Trail, Durham, NC, 7/10/11 Pink-striped Oakworm Moth, Third Fork Trail, Durham, NC, 6/2/11  

Rosy Maple Moth (Dryocampa rubicunda, subfamily Ceratocampinae)

Rosy Maple Moth,  7/25/04.  This member of the Royal Moth subfamily also found its way to the tennis court, but did not revive.           

Eastern Buckmoth (Hemileuca maia)

These moths were attracted in great numbers to Carolina Beach SP's Turkey Oaks in December, doing an extensive search of their leaves when landing at a tree.

Eastern Buckmoth, forewing showing, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 12/4/12 Eastern Buckmoth, hind wing showing, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 12/4/12 Eastern Buckmoth, emerged from a cocoon, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 12/4/12.  It might have been a fresh metamorph, but the stunted wings did not seem to be wet. Eastern Buckmoth, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 12/21/13 A constantly fluttering Eastern Buckmoth, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 12/22/18          

Sphinx Moths (Sphingidae family, Bombycoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

Although many are agricultural pests as caterpillars, their hummingbird-like behavior as adults is something many people look forward to seeing.   The clearwing sphinx moths (Hemaris genus) were very common in my area in 2003, but their numbers dropped off greatly after that.  None showed up in 2006, but a few made their appearance in 2008.

Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth (Darapsa myron), Durham, NC 5/17/15 Pandora Sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus), Durham, NC, 8/23/20 Pandora Sphinx (Eumorpha pandorus, subfamily Macroglossinae), Montgomery County, TN, 8/2/11.  Photo by Caity Thomas. Nessus Sphinx (Amphion floridensis), Durham, NC, 7/10/04.  This moth was about an inch long. Mournful Sphinx (Enyo lugubris), Carolina Beach, 10/19/05.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts


Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), Durham, NC, 8/4/16 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), Durham, NC, 8/11/16 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), Durham, NC, 8/5/16 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 3/29/17 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), Durham, NC, 9/26/11 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Durham, NC, 10/1/08 Hummingbird Clearwing Moth and Silver-spotted Skipper on a butterfly bush, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/4/21  

Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), Durham, NC, 7/17/19 Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Durham, NC, 9/22/16 Snowberry Clearwing Moth on Lantana at the Visitors Center of the Jordan Lake Dam area, Chatham County, NC, 9/3/11 Snowberry Clearwing Moths mating, Durham, 8/4/03.  Like this photo?  Order a product with that picture on it at our online store. Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), Durham, 8/20/03.  This moth is in the same genus as the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth and behaves about the same.  Snowberries are much more common, however. Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Durham, 8/28/05.  This moth appeared in a swamp in my neighborhood. Snowberry Clearwing Mothcaterpillar, Durham, NC, 10/3/07


 Walnut Sphinx Moth (Amorpha juglandis), Durham, NC, 8/30/07.  Photo taken at night. Pink-spotted Hawk Moth (Agrius cingulatus), Carolina Beach, NC, 9/18/07.  ID thanks to J.D. Roberts. Pink-spotted Hawk Moth (Agrius cingulatus), 9/29/03. Oleander Hawkmoth (Daphnis nerii), Liberia.  Photo provided by Rachel Holmes.  ID thanks to Jack Oughton, who has seen them as rare strays in the UK.


Northern Pine Sphinx (Lapara bombycoides), Appalachian Trail, Botetourt County, VA,  9/15/04.  This is only one of the many species of caterpillars that feed on pine needles. Southern Pine Sphinx moth caterpillar (Lapara coniferarum), Durham, NC, 9/6/16 Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta), Durham, 9/2/04.  This is probably a common sight, wasp cocoons and all, for organic tomato growers.  This caterpillar is a member of the Sphingidae moth family.          


Lappet Moths (Lasiocampidae family, Lasiocampoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

Artace cribaria, Macrophaliinae subfamily, Durham, 10/12/05 Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/1/09

Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) moth,  Durham, NC, 5/24/07

Picture-winged Leaf Moths (Thyrididae family, Thyridoidea superfamily, Obtectomera)

Thyridid moth, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, 8/24/05 Window-winged Moth (Thyris maculata), Durham, NC, 6/7/09 Spotted Thyris (Thyris maculata, subfamily Thyridinae) Durham, 6/17/06.  Based on BugGuide.

Snout Moths (Pyralidae family, Pyraloidea superfamily)

Distinguished Colomychus - Hodges #5200 (Colomychus talis), Durham, NC, 7/25/07.  Thanks to Dennis Profant for ID.


Snout moth, Durham, 6/30/06 Snout moth, Durham, 10/5/06.  This moth has an especially big "snout," i.e., palps.

Crambid Snout Moths (Crambidae family, Pyraloidea superfamily, Obtectomera)

Crambid snout moth (Urola nivalis, Argyriini tribe, Crambinae subfamily), Durham, 9/6/05 Celery Webworm (Nomophila nearctica, subfamily Pyraustinae), Durham, 4/9/06 Moth (Epipagis fenestralis) and much smaller insect on the right on goldenrod (Solidago genus), Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 9/26/12 Crambid moth (Epipagis fenestralis), Durham, NC, 8/22/20 Four-spotted Palpita Moth (Palpita quadristigmalis, Spilomelini tribe, Pyraustinae subfamily, Crambidae family), Fort Fisher Recreational Area, New Hanover County, NC, 6/21/07

Beet Webworm Moth (Spoladea recurvalis), Durham, NC, 9/27/20 Beet Webworm (Spoladea recurvalis), Durham, NC, 9/28/08 Beet Webworm Moth (Spoladea recurvalis), Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 10/20/21 Grape Leaffolder (Desmia maculalis), Durham, NC, 7/20/07.  Taken at night.  ID according to Covell (2005), p. 286. Spotted Beet Webworm Moth (Hymenia perspectalis), Durham, 10/24/05

Leafroller Moths (Tortricidae family, Torticoidea superfamily)

Tortricid moth (Olethreutes fasciatana), Durham, NC, 6/18/16. ID thanks to Aaron Hunt. Olethreutinae subfamily, Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area, Orange County, NC, 3/13/06


Olethreutes sericorana, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 5/20/06. This was a very tiny moth, maybe ¼ inch long. Moth (Olethreutes sericorana), Durham, NC, 8/4/18 Moth (Olethreutes sericorana), Durham, NC, 8/10/21  


Tortricinae subfamily, Durham, 8/1/06 (night)

Flannel Moths (Megalopygidae family, Zygaenoidea superfamily)   

This is an example of the infamous Puss Caterpillar, the larva of the Black-waved Flannel Moth (Megalopyge crispata) and the most poisonous caterpillar in the US according to several authorities.   It hung out on the bottom of a leaf at Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, on 9/10/05.   See Texas A&M's page for general information.  Thanks to Josh Rose for ID help. Another view of the same Puss Caterpillar.  It was not quite an inch long.  Under the cute-looking hairs are poisonous spines: resist the urge to pet it!  (And if you can't, see WebMD's relevant page for further information and consider consulting a physician). White Flannel Moth (Norape ovina), caterpillar, Umstead State Park, Wake County, NC, 9/5/04.  Like the Puss Moth caterpillar, this caterpillar is poisonous.

Saddleback Caterpillars, Slug Caterpillars (Limacodidae Family,  Zygaenoidea superfamily)

Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea).  These have poisonous spines which cause great pain to the unsuspecting hiker.  Like the Puss Caterpillar, it likes to hide out on the undersides of leaves.

© 2006 Mick Phillips

Saddleback Caterpillar (Acharia stimulea), Durham, NC, 9/4/14.  Seen on a trail bollard. Mating Hag moths (Phobetron pithecium) Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 7/15/07.  This picture was taken at 9:45 am. ID thanks to John T. Lill. Yellow-shouldered Slug Moth (Lithacodes fasciola, subfamily Lithacodinae), Durham, 7/27/05. Taken at night.

Burnet Moths (Zygaenidae family, Zygaenoidea superfamily, Macrolepidoptera)

Grapeleaf Skeletonizer (Harrisina americana), outside at the Museum of Life & Science, Durham, 6/6/05.  This is a notorious agricultural pest, described in U. of Florida/State of Florida's Featured Creatures site. Grapeleaf Skeletonizer (Harrisina americana).  Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham, NC, 6/6/10  

Planthopper Parasite Moths (Epipyropidae family)

Planthopper Parasite Moth  (Fulgoraecia exigua) caterpillar that fell out of a tree, Durham, 8/12/13 Planthopper Parasite Moth caterpillar, Durham, NC, 7/7/22 Planthopper Parasite Moth (Fulgoraecia exigua) caterpillar, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 7/31/15

Plume Moths (Pterophoridae family)

Plume moth, Durham, NC, 5/29/19.  Probably Hellinsia genus. Plume moth (Pterophorini tribe), Durham, NC, 5/23/21 Plume moth (Geina genus), Durham, NC, 5/31/20          

Metalmark Moth (Prochoreutis inflatella, Choreutinae subfamily, Choreutidae family)

Skullcap Skeletonizer Moth, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 6/15/07.  Skullcap Skeletonizer Moth, Durham, NC, 6/8/20  

Clear-winged Moths (Sesiidae family, Sesioidea superfamily)

Holly Borer (Synanthedon kathyae), Boone, Watauga County, NC, 6/28/14 Holly Borer (Synanthedon kathyae), Eno River SP, 6/21/08 Apple Bark Borer (Synanthedon pyri), Durham, NC, 6/14/22 Eupatorium Borer Moth (Carmenta bassiformis), Durham, NC, 7/17/20.  ID thanks to William H. Taft. Grape Root Borer Moth (Vitacea polistiformis), Durham, NC, 8/19/22 Grape Root Borer Moth (Vitacea polistiformis, according to BugGuide), Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/1/09.     

Concealer Moths (Oecophorinae family, Oecophoridae family, Gelechioidea superfamily)

Concealer Moth (Mathildana newmanella).  ID thanks to Bob Patterson.  

Twirler Moths Gelechiidae family, Gelechioidea superfamily)

Twirler moth (Anacampsis agrimoniella), of the Gelechiidae family, about 3 mm long.  McAfee's Knob, Roanoke County, VA, 6/15/11.  ID thanks to Maury J. Heiman.          

Grass Miner Moths (Elachistidae family, Gelechioidea superfamily)

Grass Miner Moth (Antaeotricha genus, probably Schlaegeri species, Stenomatinae subfamily.  ID thanks to John and Jane Balaban.   This moth was ~5 mm long and looked like a bird dropping at first glance.          

Ermine Moths (Yponomeutidae family, Yponomeutoidea superfamily)

Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea), North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 9/25/18 Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea), Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Trail, Chatham County, NC, 10/2/05 Ailanthus Webworm Moth perhaps attempting to emerge from a cocoon, Occoneechee Mountain, Orange County, NC. Did not have time to investigate its success in this endeavor. Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC, 8/28/10.

Sedge Moths (Glyphipterigidae family,Yponomeutoidea superfamily)

Yellow Nutsedge Moth (Diploschizia impigritella), Glyphipteriginae subfamily, Durham, NC, 5/29/15.  ID thanks to Aaron Hunt.          

Fungus Moths (Tineidae family, Tineoidea superfamily)

Eastern Grass Tubeworm Moth (Acrolophus plumifrontella), Durham, NC, 7/10/17. ID thanks to Bob Biagi. Another tubeworm moth (Acrolophus genus), Durham, NC, 7/9/19. ID thanks to Aaron Hunt.  

Bagworm Moths (Psychidae family, Tineoidea superfamily)

Cone carrying moth (Lepidoscia genus), Durham, NC, 5/14/21.  A similar insect was spotted in the Melbourne, Australia, area: Project Noah sighting. It might have arrived in the U.S. on an imported eucalpytus tree. Bagworm larva emerging, Durham, NC, 11/18/21          

Unidentified Common Moths

All of these moths (except for the second from the left, which appeared in Durham on 9/6/05, the fourth, which appeared on Little Scaly Mountain on 8/11/05) showed up in bright daylight in Durham on 9/4/05, and the fifth, which appeared in the NC Botanical Garden on 9/2/04. 

Durham, 5/27/05.  One of the ordinary moths everyone sees, though maybe not up close. Penny's Bend, Durham County, NC, 4/20/06 Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, 8/10/05


Durham, 8/1/06 (night) Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 7/9/06 Durham, 8./11/06


Dare County, NC, 10/6/05. Duke Forest, Gate 12, Durham, NC, 9/29/05

Unusual and uncommon unidentified moths

Durham, 4/15/04.  I've seen lots of tiny moths (some with wingspreads of less than ¼ inch), but this is the smallest one I've seen that wasn't dull brown. Durham, 9/2/05.  Tortricid?


Dare County, 10/6/05. Dare County, 10/6/05. Eno River SP, Fews Ford access, 12/27/05.  The pupa seems to be hanging out the bottom.


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