Exposed Bird Dropping Moth – Tarache aprica

This is another entry in my “Things you See on Mountain Mint” summer project.

I’ve seen two separate individuals of this moth so far this summer and both are pictured here.  Both are females.This moth is an Owlet Moth and the subfamily is called Acontiinae – common name “Bird Dropping Moths,” which is completely appropriate because before I looked up the species I had sorted this one into a folder on my computer called something like “bird dropping mimic” moth.  The common name for this particular moth (assuming I identified it appropriately) is “Exposed Bird Dropping Moth” with Tarache aprica as the scientific name.  They are “sexually dimorphic” which means males and females look different – which has me hoping that maybe I’ll come across a male before the summer is over.  Both individuals I’ve spotted so far have been females. 

According to Bug Guide, the caterpillars for this species feed on Hollyhock.  I don’t think I have any of that in my yard but it is common in gardens in our region.  Bug Guide also indicates that there are 34 species of Tarache moths in the US but they aren’t all photographed from what I can tell so this is my best guess based on the info available.  If you’re a moth expert (I’m FAR from it) please do correct me if I’m made the ID incorrectly.

The male would have more white on its upper wings and example photos can be seen at the bugguide species information page.

This is the individual I saw today.

I’m just getting started with posting the pictures I’ve taken of visitors to my patch of mountain mint this summer.  I’m astounded by how diverse and numerous the insect life is on this plant.  It’s definitely a good one to support a lot of insect life in the garden.  I have short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) and they love it!  To see more of the images from this backyard naturalist project check out “In the Garden” in the menu above and look under Native Plants or click here.

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