Eight Spotted Forester Moth

Alypia octomaculata

eight spotted moth

I just saw the prettiest moth ever in the backyard. Of course I didn’t have my camera so I had to borrow this image (and the one below) from Wikipedia. The spots were bright butter yellow.

I first noticed it peripherally and thought maybe a bumble bee had come for a visit. I must have flashed on the fuzziness and the orange bits. It alighted onto a nearby vine and I thought it was strange that I didn’t hear any buzzing. But when it darted away — zoom zoom — the movement seemed quite anti-bee-like yet not quite butterfly-like. Butterflies in Texas approach the size of church hats and their flight is darn near as floppy. Whatever this creature was, it had my full attention now.

I dropped my hand shovel and went into full stalking mode not even CARING if the neighbor’s chickens were going to gossip. When the mystery creature finally rested again I clearly saw the wings and body. This creature was small and fluffy. It looked more like a moth than a butterfly even though it was the middle of the afternoon.

What a relief. Texas has about eleventy billion butterflies but only a handful of diurnal moths. I might actually have a chance at identifying it.

How can you not love the internet in moments like these? One quick search for a ‘moth with black wings and yellow spots’ and … success.

Alypia2The caterpillars which look dangerous (brightly colored and spiked) eat the leaves of Virginia Creeper, Pepper Vine and grape vines (domestic and wild); the adults take nectar. We have wild grapes and Virginia Creeper growing here and there on the property. With luck maybe some eggs got deposited. If so, the Virginia Creeper seems like the better bet. It has already begun to unfurl the first of its leaves. The grapes remain dormant with just a hint of pink at the buds. Since two generations can be expected each year I might be able to see another flight in May or June.

Full geek disclosure: every time I ‘discover’ a new creature I channel the spirit of Archimedes.

εὕρηκα!

The thrill is so great I don’t even care if every reference tells me my so-called discovery is a terribly commonplace creature found everywhere. Learning that something so lovely is also common does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.

You know what makes this little discovery feel even more uplifting?  The word Alypia means “freedom from pain or grief.” Now I love this moth even more. It kind of feels like the universe is trying to encourage us all on this day leading to spring.

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9 thoughts on “Eight Spotted Forester Moth

  1. This is Momma Nature at her synchronous best. I saw my first 8 spotted Forester of the season yesterday afternoon coming out from where the creeper leaves are just unfurling. By the time I got back out with my camera it had flitted off under the oaks. Perhaps they are a bit camera shy. I’ve been fascinated by their looks but now you’ve uncovered the meaning of “alypia” I’m taking the appearance of these flashy little moths as tokens of good fortune.

    No chickens here but the doves are back in numbers and they sure seem to have a lot to say.

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  2. The trouble with butterflies is that they just don’ t sit still whilst you photograph them. I love your moth and I was so impressed that you refused to worry about the neighbours’ chickens gossiping about you.
    I am delighted to find your blog and of course I am going to follow you. I am so impressed by the fact that you refuse to be intimidated by those chickens.

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    1. Hahaha You don’t KNOW them … all day long I can hear them clucking and passing judgment. When they first moved in my cat gave me a look of disbelief. Was I just going to allow this? Was she supposed to believe these were actually birds? We mostly keep our distance from them but every so often I can see one poking its beak through the fence nosing into everyone else’s business.

      I just popped over to your blog. Love it and am now one of your faithful followers. =)

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  3. I will have to look for different moths too. I see so many on blogs, but only the hummingbird moth here that is a pretty one. I know what you mean on not having the camera when you see something really different. I saw two snowy owls on the way to my doctors and only had my iPhone. I said the heck with it and just enjoyed the view.

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