Tiger Moths

Tiger Moths (Arctiinae) are a subfamily of the Erebid Moths (Erebidae). These sturdy butterflies have hairy bodies, sometimes with bright colours or many black spots. The forewings usually have a cryptic pattern, the hindwings have a contrasting pattern with bright colors. The moths use this to warn enemies about their toxicity and the fact that they cannot be eaten. Tiger Moths use adapted hair cuticles to make ultrasonic sounds, so-called “clicks”. This allows them to draw attention to their bright colours, thereby mimicking the toxicity, reproducing sounds of other species, or even disrupting the echolocation by bats. These sound-making organs and their sound differ greatly between the different species. Most species fly at night and are attracted to light, but some species fly in the early morning or during the day. Worldwide, there are about 14,000 species, of which about 40 have been recorded in the Netherlands.

 

Tribe: Arctiini
Genus: Arctia

Garden Tiger – 2010 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 289281)

The Garden Tiger (Arctia caja) can be recognized by the white with dark brown pattern on the forewing and the orange-red hindwing with blue-black spots. It can produce a clear yellow fluid from two ducts behind the head. It flies in one and sometimes two generations from June to September, and the wingspan is 50-78mm. Host plant: Common Nettle, Broad-leaved Dock, Water Dock, and Hound’s-tongue. Dutch name: Grote beer. Frisian name: Grutte bearflinter.

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Tribe: Arctiini
Genus: Diachrisia

Clouded Buff – 2017 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 464721)

I discovered the Clouded Buff (Diacrisia sannio) during the day while it was disturbed and came out of the long grass. A pleasant surprise due to the striking colours. The male has a yellow forewing with a red spot in the middle and a red stripe along the dorsum. The female has an orange forewing with red veins. The hindwing is white, with a black band along the termen and a red wing edge. For example, on the forewing, there is a spot in the centre, which is black. He flies in one generation from May to August and has a 34-44mm wingspan. Host plant: Heather, Sheep’s Sorrel, and Common Dog-violet. Dutch name: Roodbandbeer. Frisian name: Readbânbear.

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Tribe: Callimorphini
Genus: Coscinia

Speckled Footman – 2019 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 938185)

It’s always nice to spot a new species at the moth sessions in my backyard. In that respect, 2019 was a good year. Many new species, including the Speckled Footman (Coscinia cribraria). In the resting position, this moth folds its wings around its body so that the wingtips appear pointed. The greyish-white forewing has several dark transverse bands that consist of rows of blackish spots that are sometimes fused. The blackish streaks on the forewing can vary in number and size. The blackish streaks are much more prominent for the specimen islands than for the coastal specimens. The hindwing is brownish-grey with whitish fringes. The flight period is from June to September in one generation, and the wingspan is 30-35mm. Host plant: Heather and Blueberry. Dutch name: Grasbeertje. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Callimorphini
Genus: Euplagia

Jersey Tiger – 2006 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987932)

The Jersey Tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria) is an easily recognizable butterfly because of the green-black forewing with cream-coloured stripes and red, orange, or yellow hindwing. It flies both in the daytime, when it can be found feeding on various flowers, and at night, when it is attracted to light. This moth flies in one generation from July to the end of August, and the wingspan is 52-65mm. Host plant: Common Nettle, Hemp-agrimony, Borage, Ground-ivy, and Bramble. Dutch name: Heravlinder or Spaanse vlag. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Callimorphini
Genus: Tyria

Cinnabar Moth – 2022 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 179666)

Although I have often seen the caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae), I could not discover the butterfly itself until 2022. This diurnal moth has a striking appearance due to the black forewing with two red dots along the rear edge and a red stripe along the leading and trailing edges. The hindwing is solid red with a dark fringe. Sometimes, this moth is confused with the Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae), which belongs to the Burnets family. The drawing of the wings, which also has black with red spots, is quite different. The flight period is from early April to mid-August in one generation, and the wingspan is 32-42mm. Host plant: Ragwort. Dutch name: Sint-jacobsvlinder. Frisian name: Sint-jabiksflinter.

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Atolmis

Red-necked Footman – 2022 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987889)

This moth is unmistakable, as no other species has solid black wings and a red collar. The Red-necked Footman (Atolmis rubricollis) has long, narrow wings that are folded around the body, making them compared to servants in Victorian times. The wings are velvet black in fresh specimens, and the collar is red. The red colour becomes more orangish as the moth ages. The abdomen is orange-yellow except for the front part of the top. The flight period is one generation from mid-May to mid-July, and the wingspan is 25-35mm. Host plant: (lichen) mosses and algae on trees and shrubs. Dutch name: Zwart beertje. Frisian name: Swart bearke.

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Eilema

Dingy Footman – 2017 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987420)

The Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) is a relatively narrow elongated butterfly that has folded its wings in a resting position. The wings are yellowish or grey. The grey specimens have a narrow yellow stripe along the costa, and the black legs are striking. They fly at night but can be spotted resting on the leaves of deciduous trees during the day. That’s where I’ve seen them so far. He flies in one and sometimes two generations from June to October, and the wingspan is 32-40mm. Host plant: Mosses and algae on trees. Dutch name: Glad beertje. Frisian name: Glêd bearke.

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Eilema

Common Footman – 2018 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987421)

The Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) is not exactly the moth I expected in my backyard. It is more of a moth found in wooded areas. The front wing is lead grey with a clear yellow stripe along the costa. In the direction of the apex, it gets thinner and thinner. The hind legs are largely yellow, distinguishing it from the Buff Footman (Eilema depressa). The hindwing is light yellow and is folded under the forewing in a resting position. The flight period is from June to September in one generation, and the wingspan is 28-34mm. Host plant: Lichens and algae on trees, stones, and posts, sometimes leaves of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, and Blackberry. Dutch name: Plat beertje. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Eilema

Hoary Footman – 2018 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987929)

A tiger moth that keeps its wings in a tube around its body in a resting position is the Hoary Footman (Eilema caniola). This moth loves warmth and needs warm years to develop. That is now increasingly the case in Northern Europe, which could be why he is spotted more often in the Netherlands. The forewing is narrow and very light grey. A pale yellow border can be seen along the costa. The hindwing is white, unlike the Scarce Footman (Eilema complana), which can be easily confused with this species. The flight period is in two generations, from late May to September, and the wingspan is 28-35mm. Host plant: Mosses, algae, and clover. Dutch name: Vaal kokerbeertje. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Eilema

Orange Footman – 2020 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987424)

The shape of the wings of the Orange Footman (Eilema sororcula) is characteristic of the species within its family. The costa is straight up to 2/3 and then strongly bends towards the apex. The wing has a striking orange-yellow colour that slightly becomes paler as the moth ages. The wingspan is 27-30mm, and the flight period is from April to July for one generation. Host plant: Mosses on Oak, Beech, and Blackthorn. Dutch name: Geel beertje. Frisian name: Giel bearke.

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Eilema

Scarce Footman – 2020 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 987418)

I discovered the Scarce Footman (Eilema complana) when checking the moth trap. The grey forewing has an orange-yellow stripe along the costa that is the same width over the entire length. Striking is the orange-yellow collar, which also distinguishes it from the resembling Common Footman (Eilema lurideola). The Common Footman has a grey spot in the orange-yellow collar. In addition, the Scarce Footman rests its wings in a tube around the body, whereas the Common Footman rests with the wings flat above the body. Another similar moth is the Hoary Footman (Eilema caniola). Where the Hoary Footman has a white hindwing, the Scarce Footman has a pale yellow hindwing with sometimes a grey smudge. The wingspan is 28-35mm, and the flight period is from June to September for one generation. Host plant: Mosses on stones, poles, and branches on the ground. Dutch name: Streepkokerbeertje. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Miltochrista

Rosy Footman – 2023 (BE)
(NCBI-index: 987980)

The Rosy Footman (Miltochrista miniata) is an easily recognizable diurnal moth. It is an unmistakable small butterfly with salmon-coloured wings. Very rarely, the wings are uniformly yellow. The rounded forewings show a fine, deeply serrated transverse line slightly beyond the centre and a row of dark spots or dots near the trailing edge. The edges of the wing are also usually coloured darker than the rest of the wing. The flight period is one or two generations from early June to mid-September, and the wingspan is 23-27mm. Host plant: lichens on trees, especially oak. Dutch name: Rozenblaadje. Frisian name: Roazebledsje.

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Tribe: Lithosiini
Genus: Pelosia

Dotted Footman – 2020 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 988016)

The Dotted Footman (Pelosia muscerda) is a fairly slender, soft grey-brown forewing moth. The costa is often a bit lighter in colour. This moth’s characteristic is the pattern of five, sometimes six, small black dots that can be seen in two separate rows on the forewing. The wings are often folded over each other in a resting position. The flying period is from June to September, and the wingspan is 24-28mm. Host plant: Lichens and algae. Dutch name: Muisbeertje. Frisian name: Mûsbearke.

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Tribe: Spilosomini
Genus: Phragmatobia

Ruby Tiger – 2017 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 214311)

The difference between the Ruby Tiger (Phragmatobia fuliginosa) and the Garden Tiger (Arctia caja) is that the Ruby Tiger is much smaller. The top of the forewing is reddish-brown, and two small dark dots can be distinguished on each wing. The hindwing is bright red, as is the top of the two hind legs, and has some dark spots. He flies at night and is attracted to light very well. It flies in two generations from April to September, and the wingspan is 28-34mm. Host plant: Ragworts, Plantains, Heather, Dock, Dandelion, Spindle, and Broom. Dutch name: Kleine beer. Frisian name: Lytse bearflinter.

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Tribe: Spilosomini
Genus: Spilaractia

Buff Ermine – 2017 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 875881)

The Buff Ermine (Spilosoma lutea) is a moth that I attracted to light. The male has a yellowish ground color and the female a white one. Both have elongated spots that extend from the apex over the wing to the inner edge. From the top, this looks like a “clock” shape. The difference with the White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda) is the number of black spots, which is much lower than the Buff Ermine. He flies in one generation from April to September, and his wingspan is 34-44mm. Host plant: Common Nettle, Honeysuckle, Hops, and birches. Dutch name: Gele tijger. Frisian name:

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Tribe: Spilosomini
Genus: Spilosoma

White Ermine – 2018 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 875880)

A moth that belongs to the Tiger Moth is the White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda). Previously, this butterfly was also called the ten o’clock butterfly because it was only seen after 10 p.m. The white forewing has a pattern of small black spots with at least one central black spot visible. The number of black spots can vary greatly, sometimes forming streaks along the wing veins. The head is very hairy, and the abdomen is bright yellow on top, with black spots on both sides. The flight period is one generation from May to August, and the wingspan is 36-46mm. Sometimes, there is a second generation from September to October. Host plant: Sorrel, Common Nettle, and Elder. Dutch name: Witte tijger. Frisian name: Tsienoereflinter.

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Tribe: Spilosomini
Genus: Spilosoma

Water Ermine – 2020 (NL)
(NCBI-index: 988039)

In a wetland environment, I saw the striking white Water Ermine (Spilosoma urticae) sitting on a green grass stem. The milky-white forewing is elongated, with one black dot in the centre. In some cases, two or a small row of dots can be seen at the apex. The hindwing is solid white, and both antennas are whitely pollinated. The Water Ermine resembles the White Ermine (Spilosoma lubricipeda), but the latter usually has many more black dots on the forewing and a black dot on the hindwing. In addition, a characteristic difference is that the basal segment of the palps is yellow for the Water Ermine and not for the White Ermine. Another similar species is the Muslin moth (Diaphora mendica). The characteristic difference here is the abdomen. It is yellow for the Water Ermine and whitish or greyish brown for the Muslin moth. The flight period is from April to July in one generation, and the wingspan is 38-46mm. Host plant: Water Dock and Water Mint. Dutch name: Sneeuwbeer. Frisian name: Sniebear.

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