Moths, Pacific Northwest
The Magpie Moth has variable black and white patterned wings with a yellowish coloring on its upper torso and head. It is found throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The caterpillar, which is pale green with bold, black spots and a rusty line down the sides, is conspicuously colored to warn off predators.
This moth is a regular visitor to our home during the summer months and sometimes you can see many of them on our outdoor walls.
Insects that metamorphose such as butterflies and moths are the most rich in species. This is because they are able to synchronize their life cycles to the environment, including extreme conditions where animals that remain unchanged all year will not survive.
The life cycle of insects in the order Lepidoptera is fairly uniform. Adults lay their eggs on plants or other surfaces. Caterpillars hatch from the eggs, then grow and metamorphose from pupae into adults.
Caterpillar lifestyles are diverse and intriguing. Sometimes they feed in the open, but more often they stay hidden. Most eat the seeds, stems, galls, leaves, flowers or leaf litter of certain plants. Others consume detritus, wood, hair or wool, or are carnivorous and eat other live invertebrates. Some species hide in a larval case, while others make a covering of leaves held together by silk. Some larvae live in underground tunnels, and others bore into wood.
Adult magpie moths drink nectar from flowers. The caterpillars eat various plants and bushes.