White Ermine Facts
- The gorgeous White Ermine presents a few challenges for entomologists since they do not always display the same color patterns. While the wings display a white color in all individuals, the pattern of dots varies. Some individuals display numerous black dots, while others may have no dots at all.
- This seemingly delicate Lepidoptera also conceals a dangerous secret. They serve as an excellent example of how beauty often conceals danger in nature. This insect has few, if any, natural predators because their body contains relatively powerful toxins! This little “beauty” poses as much danger to most animals as does a “beast.”
- Due to their numbers and extensive range, the IUCN does not currently have a listing of them. Yet the Catalogue of Life does have a listing of them. While their numbers currently seem stable, many fear for their future, due to changing conditions within their habitat range.
White Ermine Physical Description
The beautiful White Ermine is a rather moderate-sized species of moth. They attain an average wingspan of between 1.3 and 1.9 in (34-48 mm). While many moths display some degree of sexual dimorphism, they do not.
The wings display a milky white color, yet individuals vary greatly in other ways. The most noteworthy difference between individuals remains the presence of black dots. Most individuals present many, yet others present few, or even none at all.
Their antennae form yet another trait which sets them apart from many other moths. That’s because, in their case, these attain much greater lengths relative to body size.
Yet their beauty conceals a dark secret. The bodies of this species create relatively strong toxins, so they have few natural predators.
Species: S. lubricipeda
White Ermine Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The lovely White Ermine has a wide, yet specific, habitat range. That’s because they only inhabit the temperate zone of Eurasia. This range extends from Europe through southern Siberia and Kazakhstan to China, Korea, and Japan.
Yet within that range, they have adapted to several types of habitats. These include hedgerows, heathland, moors, forests, and even gardens. This species typically flies between May and September, depending on their precise area.
Their larvae feed on a variety of plants, most typically herbaceous ones. Due to the presence of toxins in their bodies, they have few natural predators.
Though the species still appears rather numerous, many people fear for their future. Like many invertebrates, they remain especially vulnerable to climate change.
In addition, they also face the threat of habitat loss, mainly due to human encroachment. The IUCN does not currently have a listing for them, but they have been included in the Catalogue of Life.