13 Colorful Moths You Need to Know About

Some of the most colorful moths are the Luna moth, which lives in the woodlands of North America; the Clearwing moth, from the forest edges and open meadows of North America and the Atlas moth, which frequents tropical forests of Asia.

The Prettiest 5 Colorful Moths Out There

Moths come in a lot of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some colorful beautiful moths are Rosy maple moth (Dryocampa rubicunda), which is yellow and pink.

Then, there is the Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae), which is the only black and deep pink/red color moth.

Garden tiger moth (Arctia caja) is one of the more common moths, with orange underwings and tiger stripes on top.

Moths use their colorful wings for camouflage, defense, or warning. Some moths are brightly colored as a warning to predators that they are poisonous, such as Io moth (Automeris io).

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Many moths blend well with their preferred habitats, like Oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii), which is among the most beautiful moths out there with green and whitish wing patterns. Other gorgeous moths are:

  1. Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia)
  2. Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia)
  3. Madagascan sunset moth (Chrysiridia rhipheus)
  4. Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
  5. White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata)
  6. Luna moth (Actias luna)
  7. Clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe)
  8. Atlas moth (Attacus atlas)

1. Cecropia moth: a native North American

Cecropia moth
Cecropia moth

Cecropia moth is the largest native moth in North America, with a wingspan of 5 to 7 inches. It has a deep brown wing base with a whitish mark on each wing and an eyespot on the forewings. Male Cecropia moths use their sensitive antennae to find females.

This moth’s favorite host plants are:

  • Maple trees
  • Cherry
  • Birch

2. Emperor Moth: The King of Eyespots

Emperor moth
Emperor moth

This moth belongs to the family Saturniidae. It has many shades of brown on its forewings, with orange hindwings. The eyespots on the forewings and hindwings are the most prominent feature besides its furry body. The eyespots on the forewings sit on a white background, while those on the hindwings are surrounded with orange.

Emperor moth feeds on:

  • Alder
  • Birch
  • Heather
  • Hawthorn
  • Beech

3. Madagascan Sunset Moth: brightly colored wonder

Madagascan sunset moth
Madagascan sunset moth

The Madagascan sunset moth is possibly one of the most colorful moths. Its wings are black near its body and filled with black and green stripes at the edges. The lower section of the forewings is bright orange. The undersides have a similar combination of colors, with more black stripes. Adults have a wingspan of 2.8 to 3.5 inches.

This moth’s host plants include 4 species of the pantropical genus Omphalea (Euphorbiaceae), endemic to Madagascar.

4. Polyphemus Moth: tan-colored giant

Polyphemus moth
Polyphemus moth

This giant silk moth has a wingspan of 6 inches. Its wings are pale brown, with 2 prominent purplish eyespots on the hindwings. Its body is tan-colored.

This moth’s host plants are:

  • American elm
  • Birch
  • Willow

5. White-lined Sphinx Moth: common hawk moth in North America

White-lined sphinx moth
White-lined sphinx moth

White-lined sphinx belongs to the family Sphingidae. Their forewings are dark brown with a tan stripe from the base of the furry body to the apex. Veins are covered in white lines. The forewings are black with a noticeable pink median band. The wingspan averages 2 to 3 inches.

Some White-lined sphinx moth’s host plants are:

  • Apple
  • Evening primrose
  • Elm
  • Grape
  • Tomato
  • Purslane
  • Fuchsia

6. Luna Moth: Beautifully Green

Luna moth
Luna moth

The Actias luna, also known as the American moon moth, is a species that belongs to the family of giant silk moths. Its thorax is white, and its wings are lime green. It is regarded as one of the biggest moths in North America because its wingspan reaches 7 inches.

Some of the larvae’s host plants are:

  • American persimmon
  • Cottonwood
  • White birch

7. Clearwing Moth: Hummingbird Lookalike

Clearwing moth
Clearwing moth

Clearwing moths resemble hummingbirds in appearance, but they are a few inches smaller. Sections of the wings of these North American pollinators are transparent because they lack scales that are usually common in other moth species.

Some of this larvae’s food plants are:

  • Ash
  • Alder
  • Birch

8. Atlas Moth: Wider Than a Human Hand

Atlas moth
Atlas moth

Aside from being one of the largest moths, Atlas moths have an uncanny resemblance to cobra heads. They live in India, the Philippines, southern Indonesia, and other parts of Asia.

Here are the larvae’s preferred host plants:

  • Sweetgum
  • Privet
  • Lilac

What Is the Rarest Moth?

The Atlas moth is the largest and rarest moth in the world. Its wingspan may measure roughly 10 inches, larger than a person’s hand. The caterpillars can reach almost 5 inches in length because they spend most of their larval phase consuming food from the host plants.

Are Colorful Moths Poisonous?

Only a small percentage of moths are toxic, and it’s only those that eat the toxic plants while in the larva stage. Even then, they only pose a threat when consumed. Larvae of dangerous moths are typically spiky, vividly colored, fuzzy, or striped. No known species of moth caterpillar (or adult) poses a threat to human life.

Some of the poisonous moths are:

  • Giant silkworm moths
  • Buck moths
  • Southern flannel moths
  • Spiny oak slug moths
  • Io moths

Can Moths Be Toxic to People and Pets?

Feces, eggs, and cocoons from adult moths remain after the larva hatches, and they may contaminate both human and pet food.

Exposure to these excretions causes allergic reactions and mucosal irritation. Animals and people who eat food contaminated with moth excretions are susceptible to gastrointestinal issues.

What to Do if a Moth Hurts You?

There are slim chances a moth will bite you, but it might harm you with its excrements and remains. If this happens, focus on cleaning the moth infestation and focus on prevention. You can:

  • Diffuse some cedar oil in the air to drive them away.
  • Place some flypapers on spots where you think they might go.
  • Deep clean your carpets, rugs, and other places where the larvae may go.

If you hold a caterpillar and have an allergic reaction, clean the spot with warm water and soap and use hydrocortisone cream.

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