The Great Tiger Moth (Arctia caja) is a species that has been on my 'wish list' for many years. On the night of 8-17-11, we had a beautiful individual come in to the moth sheet under our mercury vapor light. It goes without saying that I was thrilled beyond words, and I took many photos of this very approachable moth that night, then moved it further back into the woods, away from all lights. It flew back in to the area around the light by the next day, so I've been placing it on what little flora we have left to get a few more 'artistic' images. This is the first time I've spent more than one night with any individual moth, and the moth has not been restricted in any way- it is free flying, and it accepts our fingers readily to be moved from place to place around our property. I have many more images to add as time permits. I used flash sparingly here, as noctuids have large eyes that are often sensitive to bursts of light. I only wish we had a larger variety of flowers to rest him on, our flora is pretty much done for the season.
Arctia caja is in the superfamily Noctuoidea, and is a species in the subfamily Arctiinae (Tiger and Lichen Moths). According to bugguide.net there are 4 subspecies in North America: A. c. caja; americana; utahensis; waroi - and several more subspecies in Eurasia. The moth is considered uncommon to rare in North America; European numbers have been declining in recent years.
you can read more about this species at:http://bugguide.net/node/view/26615
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