Isabella Tiger Moth Facts
- First of all, the term Isabella Tiger Moth serves as the much more pronounceable common name for the Pyrrharctia isabella. This beautiful Lepidoptera also goes by several other common names. These different names include the banded woolly bear, the woolly bear, and the woolly worm.
- The first scientific recognition of this deceptively ordinary-seeming remarkable species occurred in the year 1797. At that time, the description occurred as the result of work done by the well known English botanist Sir James Edward Smith. The same individual also founded the Linnean Society.
- Furthermore, and quite interestingly, this small moth also holds a small surprise for those just learning of it. That’s because it holds a position of moderate importance in the folklore of certain parts of its native range. The belief maintains that the relative percentage of different colors in its fur each year predicts the relative severity of the coming winter.
- Finally, and quite fortunately, unlike many of its relatives, the Isabella Tiger Moth appears to still have a stable population. Therefore, the IUCN currently does not have any listing for this species. However, ongoing climate change could pose a danger in the near future.
Isabella Tiger Moth Physical Description
Perhaps most notably, the gorgeous Isabella Tiger Moth, like many related creatures, displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. In the case of this species, that shows itself in terms of coloration. The adult males display a primarily pale orange color. Meanwhile, females typically display a predominantly rosy color.
But, in terms of physical size, the genders of this marvelous insect remain essentially identical. However, the overall wingspan does vary somewhat significantly, without apparent regard for gender. As a result, mature adults attain a wingspan ranging from about 1.77 – 2.56 in (4.5 – 6.5 cm).
Yet, the larval form of this fascinating invertebrate remain its best known form. This stage of its life cycle averages about 2.25 in (5.7 cm) in length. Generally, the larvae display a covering of dense fur. This stage typically presents a reddish-brown fur in the middle of the body, and black on the front and back of the body.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Erebidae
- Genus: Pyrrharctia
- Species: P. isabella
Isabella Tiger Moth Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The wonderful Isabella Tiger Moth inhabits a comparatively broad range of habitation, in North America. More specifically, it mainly appears throughout most the continental United States. It also inhabits the southern portions of Canada. But, scattered individuals appear as far north as the Arctic region.
The invertebrate also displays a high degree of adaptability in its choice of habitats. It is this that helps it survive in areas of extreme cold. That holds true due to the fact that it appears in virtually any area with sufficient vegetation. However, it shows a decided preference for various trees, grasses, and certain flowers.
The larval form emerges from the eggs in the late Fall season. Then, the caterpillar stage spends the winter quiescent, literally freezing solid. It survives the freezing process due to an amazing evolutionary adaptation. This involves the production of a natural protective chemical that prevents destruction of its tissues during the freezing process.
Upon emerging from this self-imposed stasis in the spring, the caterpillar feeds voraciously. It eats virtually any plant it finds, but seems to prefer various grasses, as well as the foliage of trees such as birches, elms, and maples. Adults, however, only feed on the nectar of different types of flowers.