Gnophaela vermiculata “Police-car Moth” Arctiidae (now Erebidae)

Great Burn, Lolo National Forest, MT
July 10, 2015
Robert Niese

The Police-car Moth had a really big year this summer. During our weekend backpacking trip, we must have seen 30 or 40 individuals! These day-flying moths are found in the Northwest, south to Nevada and New Mexico. They tend to be found at mid- to high-elevations in the middle of summer when meadow plants are in full bloom. The adults feed on nectar and copulate for their month-long lives before laying their eggs on any number of Boraginaceae plants (bluebells, houndstongue, Lithospermum, etc.). The larvae will then hatch and eat like crazy until they hibernate as caterpillars, waiting for snows to melt. These two individuals were just hanging out and happily permitted me to photograph their – ahem – intimate moment.

Happy National Moth Week!

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