Arctia villica — “creamspot tiger”

Arctia villica, the creamspot tiger moth, is a very colourful species of tiger moth. It it distributed through Europe and parts of Africa. Their colours are an aposematic warning towards predators, for the moths are quite distateful due to host-plant derived toxins and predators prefer to leave them alone.

The beautiful underside of Arctia villica

  • Difficulty rating:  Challenging (To me, overwintering the larvae is very difficult, otherwise the rearing is easy)
  • Rearing difficulty: 7/10 (From egg to pupa)
  • Pairing difficulty: 6/10 (Archieving copulations)
  • Host plants: Taxaracum, Urtica, Rubus, Trifolium, Salix, Plantago, Rumex 
  •  Natural range:  Europe and North Africa
  • Polyphagous:   Yes  
  • Generations: Univoltine (only one generation a year).  Overwinter as larvae
  • Family: Erebidae (Arctiidae)
  • Pupation:  Spins a loose cocoon
  • Prefered climate: Temperate to warm habitat
  • Special notes: overwintering the larvae can be very difficult
  • Wingspan: 45 – 60mm (medium)
  • Binomial name: Arctia villica (Linnaeus, 1758) 

Arctia villica are quite polyphagous, which means the caterpillars are more than willing to feed on multiple kinds of host plant. Among known hosts plants are Taraxacum (dandelion), Plantago (plantains), Lamium (deadnettle), Urtica (nettle),  Hieracium (hawkweed), Rumex (dock) and many more low-growing herbaceous plants.

Arctia villica is single brooded, with moths flying from may until about august. After reproducing, the next generation of caterpillars will overwinter, waiting for the next spring before emerging as moths. The larvae may develop slowly in captivity and patience is required to rear them. The caterpillars are brown and hairy, with a wine red head capsule.

villacaasMetamorphosis.. caterpillar, pupa, moth! It is a privilege to hold all life stages of Arctia villica in my hand.

villica

The females are à little apathic and would rather wait for a male, they don’t move that much. Males are a bit more nervous and are quite eager to fly.  These moths cannot feed and will only live for a short while.

dahvillicaFront view; it is  truly a magnificent moth. 

Raising them is very challenging because they have to overwinter as larvae. This means creating a setup where they will be stored cold, preferably frost free but around 0 degrees Celcius, with warmer days that will allow them to feed before returning to a diapause like state. This is not a species I would recommend to beginners.

Video impression of the moth:

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Citations: Coppens, B. (2019); Written by Bart Coppens; based on a real life breeding experience [for citations in literature and publications] 

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The aim of this website is to provide information about many species of moths and butterflies around the world, with a slight focus on rearing them in captivity.

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