Tiger moth caterpillar with protective hairs

Woolly bear moths

It is not surprising that this family of moths are commonly called woolly bears or woolly worms, as the caterpillars of many species are really very hairy. The larvae can be full of poisonous chemicals acquired from their host plants, advertising that they are bad to eat with bright colours, bad odours and unusual shapes. The adult moths have distinctive wing venation and can also be distasteful when eaten. They produce ultrasonic sounds to warn off predators and confuse bats looking for a tasty treat. There are over 10,000 species worldwide including all the tiger, footmen, wasp and lichen moths. Amazingly, the caterpillars of some species can even survive freezing.

Scientific name: Arctiidae

Rank: Family

Common names:

  • Tiger and footmen moths,
  • Woolly worm moths

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Behaviours

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Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

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