Female Io Moth: Tend to be a reddish brown color. White-filled, black and blue eyespots on hindwing are distinctive for this species.
Male Io Moth: Tend to be a more yellowish brown color. Were his wings open fully, you'd see the male also has the distinctive eyespots on his hindwings.
Io Moth eggs: Normally, the female would lay her eggs on a larval host plant -- and the list of host plants includes over 100 different species, but for some reason these eggs were laid on the framing of our porch.
Io Moth caterpillars emerging from eggs after approximately ten days. Early larvae (caterpillers) are gregarious (i. e. They stay together.). Early instar caterpillars are often seen moving around a host plant in a "train".
Final instar caterpillars vary from green to yellow. These caterpillars will leave the host plant and form a papery cocoon usually in leaf litter. They emerge from the cocoons as adult moths. In the south, up to four generations per year are possible, but only one generation is common in northern latitudes. (The above photo is by Sturgis McKeever via Forestry Images and is used in accordance with Creative Commons copyright protection.)
CAUTION: Io Moth caterpillars should not be handled. They have urticating setae (barbed hairs that break off and inject a poison). The degree of resulting irritation varies depending upon the amount of contact and the sensitivity of the individual.
(Editors Note: This post originally published on 11/7/09)
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