Pause for Nature: Dryocampa Rubicunda

Rosy Maple Moth

While making a mad dash out the door for work, this little guy stopped me right in my tracks as I reached for the door handle. After spending a few moments staring through the glass from different angles to try and determine whether it was actually real, I pulled out my smartphone to zoom in and capture what I was witnessing.

Most people I show this photo to have a hard time believing it is a real creature and not just the result of someone using Photoshop. After years of watching nature shows showcasing beautiful creatures from around the world, we often forget to take the time to see what may actually be in our own backyards.

A co-worker actually took the time to research what this beautiful moth was. The following are the results of his efforts found on

Rosy Maple Moth
Dryocampa rubicunda (Fabricius, 1793)

Family: Saturniidae
Subfamily: Ceratocampinae

Identification: Extremely variable in color. Upperside of wing is yellow to cream to white with pink at the margins and bases of the wings. The amount of pink can vary from covering most of the wing to being absent altogether. Form alba occurs in Missouri and is all white or white with some pink markings.

Wing Span: 1 5/16 – 2 1/16 inches (3.4 – 5.2 cm).

Life History: Adults emerge in the late afternoon and mate in the late evening. Females begin laying eggs at dusk the next day in groups of 10-30 on leaves of the host plant. Eggs hatch in about 2 weeks and feed gregariously when young. Older caterpillars feed alone. Fully-grown caterpillars pupate and overwinter in shallow underground chambers.

Flight: One brood in the north from May-August,two broods in the south from April-September, possibly three broods in the Deep South and Florida from March-October.

Caterpillar Hosts: Maple trees including red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (A. saccharum), and silver maple (A. saccharinum); and oak trees including turkey oak (Quercus laevis).

Adult Food: Adults do not feed.

Habitat: Deciduous forests.

Range: Nova Scotia west through Quebec to Ontario and Minnesota; south to Dade County, Florida, the Gulf Coast, and east Texas.
Conservation: Caterpillars can become pests by defoliating trees during occasional population explosions.
NCGR: G5 – Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

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