Arctiidae (Tiger-moths)


Note: Arctiidae are not a family, they are Erebidae! But for the purpose of this website I seperate them.

Arctiidae, also known at Tiger moths, are a very large (sub)family of moths, with over 11.000 species. The taxonomical level of Arctiidae now falls UNDER Erebidae, effectively making them Erebidae. However, I still use the indication Arctiidae as a subfamily on this website, for rearing them is quite different from other Erebidae (so is their biology in general.)

Typical for tiger moths are the furry caterpillars (often referred to as “wooly bears”). Also typical are the often brightly coloured hindwings or abdomens that are usually hidden beneath the duller forewings. When disturbed, they will reveal and flash their brightly coloured hindwings as a warning. A just warning, for most tiger moths are toxic to some degree, or have bitter-tasting or smelly chemicals. (This is called aposematic colouring). Some sequester toxins from their respective host plants aswell, or produce them. Some even secrete defensive chemicals from the thorax als adults!  Not all tiger moths have functional mouthparts. While some are able to feed, most are not. Certain families are also capable of mimicing wasps. It seems that Arctiidae in general rely on their warning colouration a lot. Another characteristic for Arctiidae is that they spend a relatively long time in their life in the larval stage  – they even overwinter as caterpillars, which not many Lepidoptera do on a large scale, and often have long development times. Arctiidae caterpillars are more often than not found on the ground, grazing from low growing vegetations, such as herb-like plants and small shrubs. Common weeds like dandelion, nettle, plantain, bramble, clover and sorrel are often their primary sources of food, or comparable low growing plants among the grass. They are covered with hair, for the purpose of protection and thermoregulation.

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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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