What's black and white and spotted all over?

Black and white spotted bug in Somerville

LadyLazerJ spotted this leopard moth at Beacon and Calvin streets on the Somerville side of Inman Square the other night.

Copyright LadyLazerJ. Posted in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.



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    is fascinating. Every little thing seems to serve a purpose, even this moth's colors.

    Caterpillars (aka leopard moths v. 1.0)

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    I've noticed a few hairy black caterpillars on our deck in the past couple of weeks - I looked them up and apparently they eventually turn into these moths. I've never seen either the caterpillars or the moths before - wonder if there has been some kind of "bloom" this year.

    Believe they are Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

    Were a big problem in the '80s and '90s - they love to feed on Oak tree leaves and with strip them bare - but they will eat just about any kind of leave. When they first emerge they are very tiny and winds blow them fairly long distances ergo the name gypsy


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    The leopard moth is interesting-looking, but it also looks like an invasive species, to me. There's been a lot of invasive species coming into our eco-system for the past 2 or three decades.

    Native, or not far from native range

    It may be that we see more such things for the same reason that coyotes, deer, rabbits, etc. are turning up in the city more frequently: reforestation of the urban and near-urban environment in recent decades.

    The giant leopard moth is found from southern Ontario south to Florida and west to Minnesota and Texas (Wagner 2005; North American Moth Photographers Group map)